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Coping with Anxiety Related to Flying

For some individuals and families, spring approaching means summer travel plans. This can be an exciting time, but unfortunately flying can be anxiety inducing.  Here are some strategies and things to consider if you are someone that experiences anxiety related to airplane travel. 


Pre-travel Preparation


Anxiety increases when we feel unprepared and rushed for time. Give ample time to account

for poor road conditions, traffic, and unforeseen circumstances. Allow enough time at the airport

to ask for help when needed.


Dress to your comfort level. Airplanes can feel hot, cold, and crowded at times. Wearing clothing to accommodate these conditions can help to avoid additional discomfort as you are trying to manage anxiety. 


Bring a variety of helpful distractions – consider delays that can occur on the airplane as well as in the airport. Mindfulness apps and games can be a good alternative to watching movies on the plane. Consider a book or sudoku as a back up in case you are unable to access electronics. 




During times of high stress such as take off, landing, or turbulence try the following



Mountains and Valleys – Spread fingers in your left hand apart to represent mountains and valleys. As you breathe, use your right index finger to trace the mountains and valleys. Breathing in,

trace up the mountain, pausing in the top. Breathe out as you trace down the valley. Continue these steps as you trace through all five fingers.


Body scan – Place your feet flat on the ground and place your arms where they are comfortable.

Take a deep breath in as you focus on relaxing your toes and feet. As you exhale, imagine

stress leaving your toes and feet. On the next inhale, focus on relaxing your legs. With each

exhale focus on stress leaving your body. Continue these steps until you have scanned your entire

body, releasing tension with each breath.


Challenge unhelpful thoughts – label your thoughts as unhelpful and try to focus on facts and

positive affirmations such as: I am safe; I am calming my body; this feeling will pass. 


Drink water – have water on hand and use this to soothe anxiety when it is safe to do so. When we drink water, we allow our body to shift out of fight or flight mode, focusing on digestion.




Shannon Baustad, MC, is experienced in many areas such as anxiety, depression, and relationships, plus many more. For more information on Shannon and her work, click here to link to her full bio page.