Fearful man standing on tarmac with aircraft in background

According to the National Institute of Mental Health in the US, 6.5% of the population are afraid of flying. This might not sound like very many, but it works out to well over 20 million people. For some, this fear is linked to a bad experience, but for many, it’s an irrational anxiety brought on by being trapped in a metal box 30,000 feet in the air with no way out, and no control over their safety.

Happily, this common problem has many solutions – some more conventional than others. If aviophobia prevents you from traveling by air, take a tour of the range of natural remedies listed below. Remember, this issue is very common; it doesn’t have to govern your life.

Some people ask their doctor for sedatives to help them through the journey; others self-medicate with alcohol; still more are forced to simply stay at home. However, if your job requires you to travel regularly by air, you’ll be needing a lasting cure, and not just a temporary fix. Here we’ve compiled some natural remedies to help you overcome your aviophobia for good.

Help for aviophobia falls into two broad categories: Psychological and medicinal. Let’s start with the psychological options available.

Psychological Remedies

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a targeted form of therapy that aims to get to the root of your fear and give you coping mechanisms to alleviate the anxiety. According to the experts approached by Air Charter Service, you may need several sessions with a trained counselor or psychologist before you feel confident enough to take even a short flight. Many people swear by it, but as a remedy it is costly and time-consuming. However, it is completely safe and reliable, and has a high success rate.[1] But for deep-rooted fears there are stronger, more acute methods available.

Hypnosis
Hypnosis is a proven technique for helping people conquer their fear of flying. Often two sessions only are sufficient. However, depending on how deep your fear is, more sessions may be needed.

Hypnosis teaches your brain new behavioral patterns. A hypnotherapist prepares you with relaxation skills that can be used to enter a state of calm focus. Methods vary, but often the hypnotherapist will attempt to ‘disassociate you from the visualisation’, then re-associate visions of flying with relaxing memories from early life.[2] It may not be an immediate cure, but most people find hypnosis a highly effective way to manage their fear of flying.

Exposure Courses
Immersion therapy, or ‘facing your fear’, is a powerful technique to counter anxiety and fear. If you suffer from arachnophobia, this would involve learning about spiders until you feel comfortable holding one. For people with aviophobia, the same principle applies.

Many major airlines hold courses for aviophobia sufferers. People on the course spend a day listening to pilots talk about flying and familiarising themselves with the plane’s interior. By the end of the day, you should feel confident enough to fly.

If your fear of flying is more of an aversion than a phobia, i.e. if you are able to board a plane (although the experience is scary and unpleasant), then exposure courses might be your best bet.

Often our fear comes from the unknown. Getting to grips with the mechanics and routine of flight can alleviate this fear greatly.

Distraction Techniques

Distraction techniques are similar to exposure courses insofar as they are more effective against nerves and anxiety than full-blown phobic fears. These tactics require no special equipment that you couldn’t find in a newsagent’s. They’re also the cheapest remedies available. Many people have their own distraction techniques, but here are a few of the most common:

  • Deep breaths. When you start to feel anxious, focus your concentrate on your breathing. Breathe in slowly, pause, exhale, and repeat.
  • Practice mindfulness. Focus on your body and breathing instead of allowing your anxiety to take hold.
  • Relaxing music – many sufferers swear by it. Buy a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and then zone out for the flight. Classical music is your best bet – particularly for take-off and landing. You could even download a self-hypnosis app for your smartphone or tablet and use this to calm your fears during the flight.
  • Aromatherapy is both natural and effective. Lavender and peppermint oil have a soothing quality that can make all the difference to your journey. You can buy these pungent unguents from the airport, or from any chemist or pharmacy.

Sometimes fear of flying manifests as physical symptoms: sweaty hands, high heart rate and sickness are all common examples. If these are the worst aspects of flying for you, medicinal remedies tend to combat those physical symptoms. These are recommended if the fear is manageable, but the symptoms are not.

Medicinal Remedies

Homeopathy
Studies show around 40% of people experience some anxiety about flying.[3] Symptoms range from trembling and diarrhea to nausea and panic attacks. Depending on your reaction to air travel, there are many homeopathic remedies on offer.

The most popular three are Cocculus 30c, Tabacum 30c and Nux vomica 30c. Dosages vary – visit here for a lucid guide on how much to take and how often. Medication for specific symptoms like diarrhea and sunstroke are also described on this page.

Most natural health retailers offer homeopathic travel kits, which contain medicine for aviophobia as well as influenza, hangovers, and injuries.

Prescription Drugs (Non-natural Remedies)
There are many unnatural remedies that many people find just as effective. Drugs like Xanax and Valium can help sedate a passenger for their flight’s duration. Speak to your healthcare provider and follow their directions to the letter. Other, longer-term medications are available too, known as ‘beta blockers’, but these can take months to come into full effect. Depending on how regularly you travel by air, different remedies are recommended. Get the advice of your GP to discover the most suitable remedy for you.

The Good News

With modern psychiatric and medical advances, there’s no reason to stay grounded. Try one of the natural remedies above to start exploring the wide, wonderful world we live in!

[1] M. Nichols, Aviophobia: Understanding the fear of flying, http://anxietypanichealth.com/2008/07/17/aviophobia-understanding-the-fear-of-flying/, 2008. (Accessed 9 May 2017).

[2]C. Delaney, MANCHESTER HYPNOSIS AVIOPHOBIA THE FEAR OF FLYING,  https://christopher-delaney.com/2014/08/10/manchester-hypnosis-aviophobia-the-fear-of-flying/, 2014. (Accessed 9 May 2017).

[3] N. Duelli, Homeopathic Remedies For Travel, http://www.alive.com/health/homeopathic-remedies-for-travel/, 2009. (Accessed 9 May 2017).