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8 Calming Techniques to Settle Pre-Flight Nerves

Pre-flight nerves are common among flyers, and dealing with such flight anxiety is more normal than you may realise.

According to recent studies, over 1/3 of people fear flying, so relax; you’re not alone.

You may be part of that third if you dread getting on a plane and taking to the skies. You can feel out of control of the situation, putting your trust in someone else’s hands.

Author: Camp Leaders
21 Nov 11:32

But remember, it’s a good thing it’s in someone else’s hands.

For 99.9% of us, we’re not trained pilots with thousands of hours of flight time experience; we absolutely should not be in control of such a situation!

Let’s leave control to the incredible professionals. These pilots love what they do and make multiple flights daily, connecting people to their jobs, families, and dream destinations.

We all get jitters and nerves for something in life, so don’t feel bad about yours being pre-flight nerves. It’s completely normal, and as the stat above states, you’ll likely be sitting near 20 other anxious flyers, all feeling the same nervousness.

The tips in this article will give you everything you need to beat your pre-flight nerves and flight anxiety once and for all so you can board a plane without feeling afraid.

How to settle pre flight nerves
  • Breathing exercises
  • Read
  • Exercise
  • Join a comfort group
  • Counselling
  • Avoid coffee
  • Anxiety medication
  • Remember why you're going

Read on below to find out more about each technique in settling pre flight nerves.

Practice breathing exercises
A person practicing their breathing to relieve their pre flight nerves.

One of the easiest ways to ease your pre-flight nerves is by practising breathing exercises.

A lot of people don’t understand the power that breathing has. It’s something that sustains us on auto-pilot, sure. But conscious breath control has many important benefits, such as reducing stress.

When you’re anxious, your body releases hormones that make you feel on edge and tense. When you regularly breathe from your abdomen, it helps to slow your heartbeat and regulate these hormones. This will help calm your mind and reduce pre-flight anxiety, so you’re not as stressed about flying.

You can make breathing exercises part of your everyday routine. For example, you could make it a point to do five deep breaths before leaving the house in the morning, helping keep your day calm and focused. Or, if work or studies become stressful, take five minutes to do controlled breathwork. Please don’t knock it until you’ve tried it; with time and practice, it’s a proven technique that’s worked for thousands of years.

As a perfect segway into the next point, read “Breath: The Science of a Lost Art” to understand the true importance of controlled breathing.

A person reading a book by a window.

Not only will you learn something, but it’s the perfect distraction technique.

When your brain is working overtime, concocting random thoughts of nerves through overthinking, you need to direct that energy elsewhere.

Reading provides a physical and mental prompt, locking your eyes and mind on a particular subject.

Some will listen to music, and if that works, great. But it’s also easy to get the adrenaline pumping with music or to allow it to sink into the background whilst your mind wanders back to overthinking.

Reading requires your full attention, whether to the content at hand or, more literally, the page at hand.

It’s the perfect diversion of energy.

Exercise before your flight
A group exercising outside.

Now, please don’t make yourself late and dash for the gate (although we’ve all been there).

Exercising before your flight will help you to expend any excess energy that you may have. This will leave you feeling more relaxed and less anxious as you board your flight, getting rid of that nervous energy.

If you have time before your flight, make sure that you schedule a workout session. Run, gym, yoga, whatever works for you, use up some of that energy you’ll otherwise use to overthink. You can even make it a homework assignment to exercise every day before your flight.

Who knows, it may even tire you enough to get some sleep on the plane, and then it’ll be over before you know it.

Join a comfort group
A group of friends talking as a comfort group.

If you’re part of a local community, you can try to find a comfort group that can help to ease your pre-flight anxiety.

A comfort group will consist of like-minded individuals who will understand your pre-flight anxiety. Again, with a third having some form of fear of flying, you’ll undoubtedly find people who feel your pain.

These groups can benefit people suffering from anxiety by letting them talk to others who genuinely understand what they’re going through. When you’re part of a comfort group, you can also help support other members with pre-flight anxiety.

You can find a comfort group on social media, as they’re often community-led. If you can’t find one, why not start your own?

The community is there; it just needs connecting.

Go to a counselling session
A person speaking about their pre flight nerves with a counsellor.

Pre-flight anxiety can often stem from past experiences.

Sometimes, people who suffer from anxiety will try to push down the memories of a traumatic event that caused their anxiety. If you try to ignore your pre-flight anxiety, it can only get worse.

Instead of ignoring your pre-flight anxiety, you could go to a counselling session to determine what may be causing it and work through your past experiences.

This is a little deeper than just sorting your nerves, but what you uncover could be of enormous benefit to your life moving forwards.

Avoid coffee
Herbal tea: a great stress reliever to ease pre flight anxiety.

Coffee is a stimulant that can make you more anxious.

The last thing you need is to charge your overthinking mind with caffeine.

Try to replace your coffee with decaf or herbal teas. Herbal teas can help to lower your anxiety and make your trip more comfortable (and less on edge), and the antioxidants are great for you as well.

Plus, they can come in all different flavours, so there’s a little something for everyone.

Take anxiety medication
A person smiling.

This must be considered more carefully based on your personal and medical situation. This is not medical advice, so speak to experts.

If flying causes enormous stress, it’s crucial to speak to a healthcare professional to seek a professional course of action, whether medication or something else. We do not know better than professionals, so always rely on getting expert advice regarding your health.

If you don’t enjoy flying and still get somewhat nervous, there are also numerous over-the-counter solutions. Kalm is a natural approach to soothing your fears, helping you relax and promoting calmness.

It’s each to their own with this, so it’s best to try in advance to see what works.

Remember, if you take any medication, prescribed or otherwise, do your research on the country you’re flying to, to see if you need to take any documentation or if it’s banned.

As always, speak to a professional first.

Remember why you're going
Two friends laughing at summer camp.

If you feel nervous when flying, it’s important to remember that flying is the best way to get from A to B.

You’ll travel by car, bus, or train, and statistically, flying is one of the safest modes of transport.

Your flight is the perfect time to be excited about your upcoming journey, so try to divert your nervous energy towards that. You’ve saved up, committed to going, and dealt with the queues at security; this is now the start of the fun.

If you’re off to summer camp, you may even be near others making the same journey, so don’t be scared to chat with people (even if it’s just to distract you). You’ll be embarking on a trip you’ve worked incredibly hard for, so put the benefits of travelling ahead of the issues of flying.

Pre-flight anxiety is real, it’s expected, and it’s normal.

As with all fears, they come from somewhere, so it’s essential to acknowledge them to work on them.

They may always be there, but if so, the above list of techniques for dealing with pre-flight nerves will help make your flight less anxious, more smooth, and the overall adventure even more fun.

Camp Leaders
With over 20 years of travel experience, the Camp Leaders team has the answers to almost anything you can think of. We're here to help you sort your ultimate summer - feel free to ask us anything.

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