Facing your demons

With sustained determination, no fear can hold you back from soaring towards new heights

Facing your demons

I am an easy-going jovial 24-year-old girl. I have a successful new job in an MNC, but I am scared of flying. This has started impacting my work as I am expected to fly. When I am on a flight, I keep imagining the worse, my heart begins to pound, I stress out over the slightest of the turbulence and usually have a friend or family accompany me so that I can squeeze their hands during take-off, landing and turbulence. I dread the idea of flying but my promotion is at stake. What do I do?

You aren't alone when it comes to this fear. Yes, in fact, Aviophobia or aerophobia and flight anxiety are extremely common. Nearly 2.5 per cent to 6.5 per cent of the population dread the plane like a plague. Chances are you are triggered each time you read about a plane crash. But did you know that statistics have shown that you are as much as 19 times safer in a plane than in a car.

Ever wondered why you experience all these symptoms? Here is why. When the flight takes off, or this image comes to your mind, you start producing excessive adrenaline. Ironically this surge of adrenaline itself causes one to experience "fight, flight or fright" response. The body begins to pick this up as a dangerous situation and leaves you experiencing pounding of heart, clammy hands, wobbly legs, shivering body and the expectation of the worse to happen. The anxiety doesn't happen only in real-time but also anticipatory anxiety about a potential future flying event sets in.

The solution that you are looking for requires you to slowly face your demons. A graded manner of facing your biggest fear is called systematic desensitisation and exposure therapy. Learning various relaxation methods can be extremely useful, as can be the occasional use of prescription medicine by your doctor.

Start by accepting that your fear is more exaggerated than the actual risk. The negative and irrational thought patterns would constantly need to be challenged by you and your therapist.

A new wave of technological advancement has been in the field of virtual reality therapy and biofeedback. This next-generation technology allows you to imitate exposure virtually rather than in actual real-life scenarios. There is also continuous feedback on how your body is reacting and you can learn to work on your biggest fear in a virtual setting.

Don't let this fear hold you back. It is time to fly and soar towards new heights. You can overcome this fear with the right help and sustained determination.

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