For both students and people in work, the option for taking a gap year is proving to be a very popular life choice. Making the decision to take a gap year and following it through can be difficult to achieve. For a student taking a gap year before or after taking a university degree, a gap year can have a huge positive effect in terms of boosting confidence, increasing maturity, developing social skills, gaining experience and knowledge of different cultures, helping the environment and feeling independent by taking the opportunity of working in a different country.
Air travel is a fact of modern life, something that even the youngest child now takes for granted. If you want to get from point A to point B, flying is generally the quickest option – sometimes the only option, especially if it involves overseas travel – and with prices at an all time low, anyone and everyone can fly nowadays.
This ability to jet off to all corners of the globe is one that has allowed people greater travel freedoms than they have ever had before, but for some, this freedom comes with a price tag attached. Not everyone is a good flyer, and certainly, not everyone actually enjoys flying.
For instance, whilst statistics compiled by the US Department of Transport suggest that flying is 29 times safer than traveling in an automobile, many people are simply terrified of getting on a plane.
If you are scared of flying…
There are many thousands of people all over the world who are terrified of flying. And whilst some are scared because of a previous bad experience, probably the majority of Pteromerhanophobia sufferers have had no previous adverse flying experience at all. They are just scared of flying, it is as simple as that.
However, if you are to have any chance of dealing with the problem, you have to be able to answer the question of why people are frightened of flying in the first place.
For some people, it will undoubtedly have something to do with the fact that almost all major catastrophes that involve aircraft are widely reported in the newspapers and on TV.
Thus, many people get on a planes focusing on the fact that planes crash because that is all they ever read in the newspaper or see on TV. But the fact is that for every plane that crashes, there are millions – literally, millions – of flights that begin and end with no drama whatsoever, no more exciting or scary than a bus ride down town or a quick two stops on the subway.
The first thing to understand is what the fear of flying really is, because if you know that there is an far higher chance of getting killed in a car crash than there is on a plane, your fear cannot be based on the fact that a plane is transportation in the same way that a car or bus is.
Some people will suggest that they are scared of flying because the idea of sitting in a metal tube at 35,000 feet above the earth is so unnatural, but that does not make a great deal of sense either. Driving around in your car is no more natural than flying and very few people are scared of being in a car. This is not therefore particularly convincing argument either.
What makes a plane different to a car is that in a car, you retain a degree of control (even if we are not driving) and you are on the ground. Once you are in a plane and they shut the doors, that’s it, you’re trapped and you suddenly feel very vulnerable and threatened. You have no control, because your fate is now 100% in the hands of the crew, and you’ve never even met them!
You are more aware than at perhaps any other time that you are vulnerable and that life is fragile and that whilst moving around on the ground is perfectly normal, flying through the air is not.
In essence, a fear of flying is a type of anxiety disorder, a specific phobia or fear that cannot necessarily be easily overcome by trying not to think about it. As an anxiety, you are scared of the unknown, worrying about what might happen rather than something that will happen or what is happening right at this moment.
For most people, fear of flying is a combination of many factors or fears that they have. For instance, many people are scared of heights, whereas others feel uncomfortable in crowded places or in an enclosed space.
So, how do you overcome this fear?
Research into the thought processes of people who are afraid of flying has indicated that there are four different types of thinking associated with fear.
People who fear flying:
Can usually think of nothing other than flying and how unpleasant it is both before and during the flight;
Usually indulge in self blame, thinking about all the mistakes they have made;
Often resign themselves to their fate, simply accepting that they have to be scared and that they can change nothing;
Will catastrophize, that is, they think of all the terrible things that could happen.
Taken together, what this means is that if you fear flying, you’ll probably spend a great deal of time thinking about it and worrying about it beforehand. Furthermore, once you are on the plane and your flight begins, you’re going to focus on the unpleasant physical and psychological effects that you feel, making the whole of your journey a time of misery.
From here, you have to start applying a little logical, adult thought to the four psychological factors were looking at earlier.
For a start, there is no point in worrying about flying for days or weeks in advance. It is either going to happen and you have to do it or you cancel your flight and don’t go where you were planning to go. Take a deep breath, stand back from the situation and forget about it. It is it going to happen or it is not and thinking about it is not going to change anything.
For example, you may be worrying about completely the wrong thing, because before you ever get on the plane, there’s far more chance that you will be involved in a car accident that will prevent you going on your trip in any event. Of course, this is morbid thinking but it serves to illustrate the point that there really is no sense in worrying about something that might never happen.
When you are on the plane, cruising at 30,000 feet, it is a fact that there is absolutely nothing you can do to change your situation. So, make sure that you get a window seat, and be amazed at the view (assuming that are not flying at night). Your grandparents (or perhaps your great-grandparents) never, ever got to see such an unbelievable panoramic vista of the world, they never got to see such incredible beauty, so be grateful instead of being scared.
In this way, you teach yourself that instead of being afraid of flying, you should be in awe of or rapt by the wonder of modern day, super-safe flying.
Don’t dwell on your mistakes. You are going to get a chance to make good on your errors at a later date because that later date will inevitably come. And you should also remember that none of us is perfect and everyone makes mistakes from time to time because making mistakes is an inevitable feature of the human condition.
Understand that whilst you are 100% in the care of someone else, they are the most capable people imaginable for the job that they are doing. And despite this fact, you are not completely helpless. You can deal with the psychological and physical side-effects of fear of flying by learning and practicing deep breathing exercises, progressive relaxation and so on.
Discipline yourself to do these things whenever the fear of flying starts to set in again by making sure that these skills or abilities become a part of your regular flying routine.
As for thinking about all of the things that could go wrong, you have to be realistic and grown up about the situation. For instance, whilst you might allow yourself to think dark thoughts before getting on the plane, once you are on-board, you should see view the whole thing as a challenge, a fight from which you are not going to run away.
Accept that whilst there are a multitude of bad things that could happen, the chances of any of these things happening are absolutely minutely tiny, so what is the point of worrying about something that is almost certainly never going to happen?
Teach yourself these thought patterns and it will help to banish all of the negative thoughts that between them make up the fear of flying.
Try to control your emotions…
There are many ways of learning to control your emotions, but two particular methods of emotional control that work extremely well for many people are deep breathing and progressive relaxation.
Learning to breathe deeply the easy way
You may have heard of the famous Russian physicist Ivan Pavlov and his experiment with dogs where he proved that reflex actions were not necessarily uncontrollable. This is an idea that can be applied to your thoughts as well by associating them with deep breathing so that breathing deeply becomes a conditioned reflex that is triggered every time your fear of flying kicks in.
When Pavlov carry out his experiment, the concept was that he rang a bell before giving his dogs food. After doing this for some considerable time, he discovered that as soon as he rang the bell, the dogs began to salivate and their digestive processes kicked in. In effect, the experiment carried out by Pavlov proved that involuntary reflexes could be triggered on demand as a result of conditioning and training. There is no reason why the same thinking cannot be applied to people and your fear of flying.
You can read about this particular deep breathing training training in detail here but in a nutshell, the idea is that you train yourself so that as soon as your fear of flying starts, you have already conditioned yourself to start breathing slowly and deeply as a natural reflex reaction.
In essence therefore, by adopting this particular deep breathing training technique, you ensure that you start taking counter-action as soon as your fear starts to take over and, more importantly, you do so immediately and automatically.
This is obviously not something that you can train yourself to do immediately but with a little time plus a reasonable degree of concentration and effort, you should be able to master this technique in a matter of a few weeks. And once you have done so, you have acquired a perfect way of dealing with your fear of flying any time it seems as if it is likely to hit you.
The beauty of this approach is that once you train your reflexes, you remove the requirement for conscious thoughts that tell you when to start breathing deeply. This is very important because you already know that your fear of flying is anything but rational, so having to use conscious thinking to remind yourself to stop breathing deeply might be a little difficult.
When you are suffering fear induced anxiety or panic attacks, the last thing you have is the capability for rational conscious thought so conditioning your reflexes to act automatically in this way is extremely effective.
Progressive relaxation is a technique for stress management that was developed by Edmund Jacobson in the 1920’s. Jacobson argued that since anxiety was often accompanied by tense muscles, it could be reduced or removed by learning how to relax.
The basic idea of progressive relaxation is that you learn to tense and then relax muscles throughout your body and that by doing this, you also learn how tensed and relax muscles feel. This is a very simple technique for relaxing yourself, takes around five minutes and can be done anywhere, any time. As suggested, relaxing means that you reduce anxiety and tension in your body, which means that by adopting this relaxation strategy, you automatically lessen your fear of flying.
If you intend to broaden your horizons by visiting countries perhaps less fortunate than yourself, it is very important to make sure you are at your best health-wise before leaving.
One of the easiest and best ways of giving your body a healthy reboot is to start juicing. I have be drinking home-made juices 3 times a day for the last 4 weeks and I have noticed definite changes in myself.
Not only have I lost weight, but my skin and hair have a healthy glow to them. This is a health regime that can be done at home with only needing to purchase a juicer.
The juicer I use is one by Jay Kordich, and I love this one because of the added bonus of being able to “juice” nuts to make your own milk.