PSYCHO – About a third of the population is anxious about traveling in the air. But do not panic, solutions exist to remedy this phobia.
“The first time I flew I was 18. I was going to Mayotte, I was all alone and I cried the whole way. I was terrified,” recalls Anne, 60. And this is not an isolated case. “There are few studies on the subject, Luxury Homestay but it is estimated that one in three people is afraid of flying,” says Philippe Goeury, psychologist at the Air France stress center. From now on, the sexagenarian takes the plane only if she is obliged to do so, for example when she makes a distant trip. His latest flight ? Mexico.
Although it was a test for her, things went better than in the past. “Thanks to crosswords, I occupied my mind. And when I watched a movie with a 3D mask, I managed to forget that I was on a plane,” she says. Without knowing,
An internship to no longer be afraid
For 11 years, this former purser has been involve in courses to fight against the fear of flying. These one-day training sessions take place in the two main airports in the Ile-de-France region. On the menu: a personalize interview with a psychologist, a meeting with the crew to find out behind the scenes, two hours in a flight simulator and personalize follow-up. “The goal is to trivialize this mysterious environment as much as possible to appropriate it and be less afraid,” explains Philippe Goeury.
For Christophe Bagot, psychiatrist specializing in anxiety disorders, these trainings have a big flaw: “I am quite critical of courses organized in a simulator because people know that they are not really on an airplane. This is why I advise my patients to take courses where they will perform a real flight”. On the contrary, Luxury Homestay Philippe Goeury thinks that flying immediately after training is too brutal: “The simulator is an intermediate step which is already very high for some”.
“The goal is to trivialize this mysterious environment as much as possible in order to appropriate it and be less afraid”
Philippe Goeury, psychologist at the Air France Anti-Stress Center, former cabin manager
Velina Negovanska, psychologist specializing in stress management and co-author of the book I’m no longer afraid of flying! Leads internships at the treatment center for fear of flying, a company present in several French and European cities. For her, the secret of a serene journey in the air is cardiac coherence, a breathing exercise that allows you to control your heart rate, and thus regulate your stress independently.
“For me, this is the most important part of the course because, Luxury Homestay thanks to this technique, people are no longer deprived”, specifies the psychologist. But these training courses are far from being accessible to all because their cost amounts to several hundred euros.
Avoid stressful situations and face your fear
But there are tips that are much less expensive than an internship. “Sleep well the days before the trip, try to have a pleasant journey before the flight by avoiding stressful environments like the RER, recalls Christophe Bagot. You can also go for a walk in the airport a few days before to confront the place. And above all, it is important to lay your cards on the table by warning the flight attendants of their fear.
Make a kind of “coming out” of his phobia. Because the fear of flying is very generally accompanied by shame and the fear of appearing mad in the eyes of others in the event of a panic attack.
“It is important to put your cards on the table by warning the flight attendants of their fear. Make a kind of coming out of his phobia»
Christophe Bagot, psychiatrist specializing in anxiety disorders
And contrary to popular belief, people who are phobic about airplanes are not all afraid of crashes. As Velina Negovanska explains, there are four types of profiles: “those who are afraid of an accident, those who are claustrophobic and can’t stand being locked in an enclose space, Luxury Homestay those who are afraid of having panic attacks and those who need to keep control of the situation”. And from one case to another, the level of anxiety is not the same.
Get to know the aeronautical world better
For those with mild to moderate anxiety, learning about how an airplane works can be a big help. “Fear often comes from the unknown. Most people don’t know how a plane flies and that worries them, recalls Marie-Claude Dentan, a retired psychologist and co-founder of the Air France stress center. I am convince that fear decreases with knowledge,” she continues.
Drawing on her experience (approximately 8,000 people during her career), the therapist co-wrote a book that provides a better understanding of how an airplane works. “It is important to make people aware that the fear comes from them and not from the real risk”, adds the specialist.
A therapy for lasting healing
When the anxiety becomes too disabling, treatment by a psychologist or psychiatrist is required. And it is possible to recover from it. “Among the people who consult me for phobias, those who are afraid of flying are the ones who come out of it the most easily, Luxury Homestay testifies Velina Negovanska.
But beware, for this type of support, it is necessary to do it in advance. “In 10 days it is impossible to perform miracles, specifies Christophe Bagot. This requires a therapy of about 10 months. Because if we stay on the surface, there is a risk of relapse.
Contrary to belief, alcohol is not a solution to reduce anxiety.
As part of an imminent departure, the psychiatrist recommends going to his general practitioner to be prescribed an anxiolytic treatment . And contrary to belief, alcohol is not a solution. “A number of people replace these drugs by drinking a few cans of beer. However, I cannot recommend alcohol to reduce anxiety because it can lead to addiction problems,” insists the doctor. Any last advice? “Keep in mind the purpose of the trip,” recommends Philippe Goeury. A trick that Anne uses regularly to reassure herself: “I manage to tell myself that once we’re on vacation it will be fabulous!”