Just before takeoff, people with a mild fear of flying should take a deep breath, immediately exhale forcefully and then hold their breath for six to 10 seconds.
That is the advice of Professional Association of German Psychiatrists (known by its German initials BVDP), which said the technique relaxes muscles and takes the mind off one’s fears.
BVDP chairwoman Christa Roth-Sackenheim advised affected persons to refrain from alcohol and caffeinated drinks like coffee, black tea and cola so as not to heighten the body’s state of agitation.
Fear of flying can manifest itself in nervousness, an abnormally fast heartbeat, heavy sweating, anxiety and nausea.
People who repeatedly show these symptoms should seek medical help. “People should admit to themselves that they have a fear of flying, especially business people who have to fly a lot,” said Roth-Sackenheim, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist.
She added that fear was a serious symptom of a disorder, not a figment of the imagination that one ought to be ashamed of.
“With the help of education and confrontation therapy, affected persons can break the vicious circle before they try to solve their problems with avoidance behaviour and alcohol,” Roth-Sackenheim said.
About one in three airline passengers is believed to fear flying. According to a survey by the German Fear-of-Flying Centre, most sufferers are frequent fliers. Many have experienced a critical situation during flight, others are suddenly gripped by fear of a crash.
Don Campbell and Al Lee are the authors of Perfect Breathing: Transform Your Life One Breath At A Time (Sterling Publishng/2008) and write, speak, train, and blog tirelessly on the subject. Discover more ways you can improve your health, performance, and wellbeing at www.perfectbreathing.com. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-888-317-6718.