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Feature Article: Calming Flying Anxiety

Anxiety is generalized fear. Your body prepares you to run, fight or act to protect yourself. Your heart and blood pressure rise, blood sugar increases and blood flow is reduced to the head, stomach, skin, hands and feet. You sweat and your muscles tense up. This response is individual to your physiology, background, and inherited instincts.

Emotional stress is just as valid a concern as is physical distress. Being frightened and recognizing the fear is the first step in overcoming fear as a problem. Fear will keep you from doing stupid things. Fear is a protective mechanism that is a very valuable adjunct to your flying repertoire.

We can also fear abstract situations. We worry about the future, the flight to come, life, health, love, status and acceptance. These concerns can trigger the same instinctive responses, as could a lion to our ancestors. However, when we react to these ‘lions’ of psychological threat our behavior is deemed inappropriate. Your very real ‘fears’ and your reaction to them becomes a part of the ‘fear’ problem.

If you are anxious about a particular flying problem you are just being normal. The physiological effect of a solo flight exceeds the similar effects occurring in a parachute jumps or first combat. It is very difficult to express in mere words your concerns because they usually defy description. However, you can help yourself.

Just as your fears are related to imagination so is the overcoming of these fears possible through imagination. For starters, take a worst case scenario and work through the sequence of events as you have been trained to manage them. Ask yourself out loud if any of this is really unbearable. Remind yourself that some degree of discomfort may occur, but you’ll survive. Every time a new worry enters your imagination, write it down and drop it into your open worry jar. Everyone should have an open worry jar. Once you have put a worry into the jar, get occupied with something else. A worry jar is a place to keep your worries until you get a chance to work with them.

In the beginning, it will be difficult to put anxious thoughts out of your mind. Trying to suppress a concern may end up with even more thinking. Arrange to do something that will not allow you to dwell on the problem until you are ready. Try not to think about a coming flight. Don’t let the thought of the flight enter your mind. You’ll probably find it nearly impossible not to think about the flight.

Worrisome thoughts fuel anxiety. Ignored worries have a way of poking back into your mind. Set aside a time to dip into your worry jar. At your selected worry time, sit down with your jar of big and little worries.

During your worry time do nothing by worry. Brainstorm through solutions. Scheduling a worry time cuts the amount of time spent worrying. Save all your old worries into an enclosed can. Save these old worries because you will soon learn that the majority of them either never happen or turn out much better than you expected.

I am asking you to look at your worries at arms-length and ask yourself if your feared ‘lion’ is being exaggerated by your imagination. Question the probability of what you imagine has of happening. Of the sequence of events which are events that have circumstances you can control. Talk to someone about the events beyond your control. You must accept that there are some things over which you have little control.

Written Specifics:

What is the worry?
What is the probability of this worry happening?
What is the best thing that could happen?
What is the probability of this best thing happening?
What are the solution options to your worry?
What plan of action will give me the best options?

Last Modified December 6, ©2023 TAGE.COM

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