Survival guide for the absolute coward
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain. We have a zone of turbulence ahead of us but nothing that will affect the safety of this flight…” Far from calming your anxiety, when you are afraid of flying these words achieve quite the opposite. It’s like receiving an injection: the cold contact of the cotton impregnated with alcohol on your skin is not painful, but since it ushers the actual pain of being shot with a needle you get used to fear the cotton with alcohol as well. But fear not: here is a survival guide to manage the miracle of putting you willingly on that plane that will take you to your dream destination.
Most people fear flying because they feel they are losing control of a potentially dangerous situation. However, you must deal with the fact that there is nothing you can do if something goes wrong on a flight. Unless you work for MI6 and your last name is Bond and you always have a jetpack in your carry-on luggage, of course.
It always helps to enforce the illusion of control. Avoid feeling like a victim of circumstances by making decisions such as when to fly and where to sit: at least you will not put yourself in the situation of flying during the hurricane season in the last row where moving the back of your seat is not an option. Bumpy flights (when you experience the sensation of ‘vacuum’) are less likely early in the morning and late in the evening because the sun is not heating masses of air that cause most of the vacuums in their way higher in the atmosphere.
Then, help the left side of your brain to take over. It rationally knows that planes are safer than any other means of transport, but the right side of your brain doesn’t seem to care about reason but about emotion. Your mission is to flood it with stimuli so it has no resources to panic, at least until you solve in therapy the causes of your fear. Close your eyes, plug in your earphones and play a kick-ass playlist loudly. In my experience, the soothing yoga-like music helps to ward off anxiety before the flight, but when turbulence is shaking the plane you need cheerful music that triggers a happy mood and makes you move your left leg and hand to the rhythm of the song. “Play that funky music” by Wild Cherry will do it. It’s even better when you visualize the images described by the lyrics and “Teorías, Caos y Besos” by Petit Fellas is perfect for that. Your brain will be so overloaded that will barely be aware of the turbulence!
If things getworse, bring the heavy artillery: epic music that shifts you into berserker mode that overcomes fear, the same way our ancestors did when they had to engage the enemy in combat. The soundtrack of Pacific Rim featuring Tom Morello works for me, but maybe an obscure gansta rap works better for you.
If none of this works, you should get some friends who give you the A-Team treatment: drug you so heavily that you will make the trip unconscious each time you need to get somewhere by air. The Mario Barakus’ haircut and bling bling are optional.
Autor: Andrés Meza