Health

25 Tips To Calm The Fuck Down While You’re In An Airplane

Tips and tricks for takeoff, turbulence, and every other terrifying in-flight moment.

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We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us how they deal with their fear of flying. Here's what they said:

Please note that these aren't medical recommendations. Be sure to check with your doctor before trying any kind of medication or treatment. And when it comes to dealing with any kind of anxiety or phobia, seeking care from a mental health professional is your best bet.

1. Focus on the destination. Remember: The flight is one tiny part of the trip.

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Try to divorce the plane ride from the rest of the experience. Don't think about going to the airport and getting on a plane, think about going to the airport and looking at all the stupid airport fiction in the bookstore or buying your favorite snack at the newsstand. Don't think about the fact that you're flying to your destination, think about all the fun stuff you'll get to do when (always WHEN) you get there. The flight itself is a relatively small part of the experience, so find something positive to focus on while you're there.

— Ruby Lucero, Facebook

2. Get to know the flight crew.

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Do's: Instant friend-making with the flight crew, and a chat with the pilots beforehand.

Dont's: Read my horoscope, check the weather.

— Laura Schwecherl, Facebook

3. Practice deep breathing.

Don't look at the clock, and bring plenty of things to pass the time. When we hit turbulence I do a bit of diaphragmatic breathing.

— Jade Moniz, Facebook

4. Bring along a good luck charm.

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My wife takes the superstition of "touching wood" very seriously. Because there's nothing wooden to touch on a plane, she always has a small piece of driftwood I found at the beach for her in her carry-on. Depending on how bumpy the ride is, I've seen her use it from "knock a few times during takeoff and landing" to "clutch the entire flight."

—Pol Plastino, Facebook

(Bracelet available on Etsy for $11)

5. Bring something that will take the entire length of the flight to do, even if it's work.

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I take my laptop and find something that I need to work on that will take at least the length of the flight to complete. One time my husband distracted me by going through each album of pictures on his computer! It was a nice distraction and it helped time go by quickly!

— Marisa Kidwell, Facebook

6. Set up a bunch of 10-minute countdowns to make the time pass.

Sally Tamarkin / BuzzFeed

If the flight has a screen with the flight path, then I keep an eye on it and check the time left. If the flight does not have a screen, then I set 10-minute timers on my (flight mode) phone. The countdown calms me.

— Raima Bhattacharya, Facebook

7. Focus on the stars or the clouds.

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Fear of flying got worse as I got older. I discovered on my most recent flight that it helps if I look out the window and focus on the clouds or stars. As long as they don't move out of my line of sight drastically, then I stay calmer, even during turbulence.

—Sara Zabar, Facebook

8. Pack a coloring book and colored pencils (and your prescription meds).

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Lorazepam, coloring book, colored pencils, and music.

— Jamie Failor, Facebook

9. Get some Buddhist prayer beads and count all 108 beads anytime you get nervous.

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While I was in India I got Tibetan Buddhist prayer beads at a monastery — they're used to aid meditation but I just wore them as a necklace because I was trying to be ~spiritual~, idk. Then one time at the airport last year, I found them randomly in a backpack pocket and decided to try them with meditation for my flight anxiety. So I just close my eyes, hold the necklace between my fingers, and slowly count all 108 beads during takeoff and anytime I start panicking during the flight. It helps me tremendously... and monks are chill AF, so it makes sense!

— Caroline Kee, Facebook

10. During takeoff listen to "Free Bird."

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I listen to "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd when the plane takes off. And for the moment near landing, I listen to "Time" by Hans Zimmer and imagine that I am on the plane from Inception.

—Denisse Aguirre, Facebook

11. Two words: Treat yourself.

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I watch movies, play games, listen to music, and drink ungodly amounts of apple juice. I don't usually drink sugary drinks, but it's my reward for getting on the plane.

—Riley Mcnamara, Facebook

12. Look at a flight attendant. If they're calm, all's well.

If I’m nervous, I look at the flight attendants. If they’re calm, I know it’s not going to be a disaster because they fly an awful lot so they know what’s dangerous weather.

hanakod

13. Learn how airplanes actually fly.

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I educated myself on how airplanes fly. You’ll be amazed how helpful it is knowing black magic is not the only thing keeping the 300,000-pound object airborne.

csongster

14. Listen to or read self-help materials.

I bought an audio CD on Amazon.com for $12 called How to Overcome Your Fear of Flying. I had absolutely no hope whatsoever that this would help me in the least. But after I got it, I followed the instructions and listened to it several times before my flight. It absolutely cured me of my fear of flying. It’s a hypnotherapy CD that was less than $20 and actually became priceless to me.

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15. Remember that the pilots want to land safely just as much as you do.

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The one thing that actually helps calm my nerves is reminding myself that the pilots are people who want to land safely as badly as I do. They’re human beings with families and hobbies and Netflix-bingeing habits just like me. That helps me more than Xanax ever will (although that helps too).

Nudiemags

17. Or pretend you're driving and turbulence is just potholes.

When I’m flying, I pretend as if every bump in the air is a bump on a street. Where I’m from (Atlanta) doesn’t have the most well-paved roads, so I use this technique while driving and think, Take note of this feeling, this is how it’ll feel in the air.”

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18. Or maybe imagine you're in a submarine. This submarine!

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I pretend I’m in a submarine because if you were in a submarine you would experience the current of the water, just like you do on planes with the air when there is turbulence, but you wouldn’t be afraid of plummeting anywhere.

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19. Download the SOAR app.

I will never again fly without the SOAR app. It helped me to have a successful flight from Baltimore to Costa Rica. Knowledge is power, and with this app, I knew what was happening with the plane from takeoff to landing. This helped to calm any fears I had about turbulence or weather.

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20. Play thumb war throughout takeoff.

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Mostly it’s the takeoff that freaks me out, so my husband and I play thumb war until the plane levels out.

allieallen

21. Chat up a pilot so you can understand how unfazed they are about turbulence.

Sally Tamarkin / BuzzFeed / Via askthepilot.com

I was a very anxious flier for years and years. One bumpy flight I happened to pick up the pilot’s radio communications on my little armrest radio thing. Hearing how they talk to each other during turbulence made me realize how nonthreatening it really is. They were just chatting away like it was another day at the office. I was sitting there panicking, while the pilot and copilot were talking about recreational softball. During turbulence! For whatever reason, that’s what made it click — they’re the experts and they’re not worried, so I'mma just sit back and enjoy the flight.

My tip to nervous flyers is to go chat up a pilot. Ask them what really happens up there. The routines of it all might help calm you down.

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23. When the flight gets turbulent look out the window so you can see how steady the plane looks despite the bumpy air.

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I fly pretty regularly, but turbulence still terrifies me. I always try to sit by the window, so that when the ride gets a little bumpy I can look out at the plane and the sky. Seeing how steady the plane looks compared to the little bumps I feel always makes me feel safe! It helps me to realize that we are stable and not falling out of the sky. :)

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24. Pretend that life is a video game and there's no such thing as dying; only respawning.

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Convince myself that life is an actual video game and I will respawn. Alternatively, marvel in the miracle of flight.

—Sarah Posnak, Facebook

25. Bring something to hug.

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I make sure to have a sweatshirt or something that I squeeze tightly during takeoffs, which are the worst for me. It's just comforting to have something to hug and hold onto.

Karon Deatherage

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Sally Tamarkin is a health editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Sally Tamarkin at sally.tamarkin@buzzfeed.com.

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