Four simple steps to beat your fear of flying

Hypnotist Daniel Tolson pictured speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle
Hypnotist Daniel Tolson gives us four simple things that will help reduce your fear of flying

Commercial air travel is the safest form of transport around, and yet for many of us, boarding a plane doesn’t come without a healthy dose of anxiety.

While statistically speaking, driving and walking are far more dangerous endeavours, there’s something about air travel that puts people on edge.

That’s where hypnosis specialist and elite business coach, Daniel Tolson, comes in.

He uses neuro-linguistic programming and hypnosis to help his CEO clients get the most out of themselves by removing self limiting beliefs. Daniel’s also a former Emirates employee, and has guided many a traveller through their fear of flying when it strikes whilst in the air.

It’s all about bringing yourself back in control from that place of fear, and here, Daniel’s told Yahoo Lifestyle four things - that when used together - can lower your stress levels on your next flight.

1. Look up

When fear and anxiety take hold, many people unconsciously turn their gaze down and to the right.

Disrupting this pathway is as simple as lifting your chin and turning your eyes upwards, focusing on the ceiling.

“When you’re looking down and to your right, you start to access negative feelings,” Daniel says, “So the first thing you need to do is look up.”

“There’s a direct connection between where your eyes look, and the feelings that you experience, so as soon as you look up, you’ll stop having these feelings.”

It’s as easy as that. So when anxiety begins to creep up when you’re on a plane, look up and focus on something on the ceiling, like the air conditioning duct, then start repeating step two.

2. Repeat affirmations

Where intention flows, energy goes, so keeping a positive and loving attitude will help ease your anxiety.

Repeating a couple of key affirmations like ‘I love myself’, and ‘I can do it’, with conviction, tells your mind that all is well, and helps you return to a calmer state.

“As soon as you say ‘I can do it’, ‘I can do it’, it changes and substitutes those negative feelings and you’re left with positive feelings,” Daniel explains.

“You can only hold one thought in your mind at a time, and if you’re fearing flying, and you look up and say ‘I can do it’, ‘I can do it’, it automatically changes the feelings in the body, and you’re back in control.”

Grandfather welcoming his Grandchild after a flight at the airport
Imagining your safe arrival and holding onto what that moment feels like is essential. Photo: Getty

3. Focus on a positive outcome

Another way to project positivity is to tap into your future self.

Daniel practices timeline therapy where he guides his clients through their past and future to dissolve anxiety. I’ve done this with Daniel and found it very effective, and you only need a little determination and discipline to do it at home (or mid flight).

“We have a thing called ‘autogenic conditioning’ and it’s the way we talk to ourself,” Daniel says.

“People will say things like ‘I don’t want to have a bad flight’, ‘I don’t want to get anxious’, ‘I don’t want to get nervous’.

“But your unconscious mind doesn’t process the negative word of ‘don’t’, so when they say ‘I don’t want to have a bad flight’, their mind hears, ‘I want to have a bad flight’ and they start to run all these patterns in their mind; they’ll imagine turbulence, they’ll imagine the aircraft crashing, and this runs around in their head, and then the feelings (of fear) take over.”

Instead, you need to focus on a positive outcome, and really believe that will be your future.

“If you’re planning a flight, you have to see yourself taking off and landing safely, and arriving to your destination in perfect health. And if you do that, you’ll trigger feelings of calmness and relaxation,” he explains.

All you need to do is close your eyes and imagine your future self after you’ve safely and successfully landed at your destination.

Once you’ve got that mental image, take note of how you feel. That could be relief, happiness at being reunited with your loved ones, excitement ahead of your holiday, and the like.

With your eyes still closed, take that feeling back to your current point in time and hold onto it.

While this technique is only the tip of the iceberg, it can really help you take control of your fear as it strikes.

Small boy playing with paper plane
Use all of the above steps together, and remember, you're in control of how you feel. Photo: Getty

4. Shut up

Last but not least, you need to stop telling everyone and anyone (including yourself) how much you hate flying.

Don’t give yourself the opportunity to validate your own fears. Every time flying, and the fear surrounding it, comes up in conversation, shut it down or walk away.

Daniel has hope for all of us, saying, “The fear of flying is a learnt behaviour, so if you can learn to have a fear of flying, then you can learn to fly very calmly.”

In his experience, Daniel has seen people feel much more comfortable about flying after as little as 10 minutes spent changing their self talk, but he recommends that most people invest a couple of hours in hypnotherapy or neuro-linguistic programming.

So give this a try, and happy flying.

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