Five Simply Ways To Help You Relax While Flying

Here are five simple ways to help you relax while flying. These come from Capt. Tom Bunn who is in my opinion the most qualified person to teach others on how to end a fear of flying.

He says himself that the below tips are just to get you started a “band aid” fix if you will. If you are serious about ending a fear of flying completely then you should read about the SOAR program by following the link at the end of the article.

Five Simply Ways To Help You Relax While Flying

Number One – The 5-4-3-2-1

Start by doing the 5-4-3-2-1 every five minutes. Then every fifteen minutes. Then every hour. It is nothing more than a focusing exercise, something to intensely occupy your mind so disturbing thoughts can’t take hold.

  • Sit or recline comfortably.
  • Focus on some object in front of you.
  • Keep your focus on that throughout the exercise.

If your eyes drift off, just bring them back. Do the exercise out loud first. Then, try it silently. See if one works better for you than the other.

  • Say “I see” and name something in your peripheral vision.
  • Say “I see” and name something else in your peripheral vision.
  • Continue until you have made five statements.

For example: I see the lamp, I see the table, I see a spot on the lamp shade, I see a book on the table, I see a picture on the table.

  • Say “I hear” and name something you hear.
  • Say “I hear” and name something else you hear.
  • Continue until you have made five statements.

NOTE: you will have to repeat something if there are not five different things you can hear.

  • Say “I feel” and name something you hear. (not internal, like heart pounding or tension, but external).
  • Say “I hear” and name something else you hear.

Continue until you have made five statements.For example: I feel the chair under me, I feel my arm against my leg, etc.

That completes one cycle. It takes intense concentration. That is exactly what you want. As you concentrate on non-threatening things, the “fight or flight” hormones in your body when you started the exercise get burned off. As they are, you get more relaxed. You don’t make yourself relax. You use up the stress hormones to let yourself relax.

Start the next cycle, but make one change. If you always made five statements, you soon could do the exercise without intense concentration, and your mind could drift back to “bad” thoughts. You can keep concentration intense by making one change each cycle. Instead of doing five statements again, do four statements. Then, in the following cycle, do three statements. Then, in the next cycle, do two statements. Then, in the next cycle, do one statement.

Stop when you are as relaxed as you want to be. If you want to be more relaxed – or to fall asleep – continue by starting again at five statements. If you lose count, that is a good sign because it means you are getting relaxed, so relaxed that you are losing count.

Number Two – Worry Once

The first time you worry about a flight and imagine something going wrong, you probably are aware that you are engaging in imagination. So long as you know you are just imagining something, it isn’t hard to dismiss it. But if you repeatedly imagine something going wrong, that thing you imagine becomes memorized. Once memorized, it comes to mind – not via imagination – but from memory. That makes it hard to dismiss. It seems factual. This makes it hard to dismiss as imagination, for after all, it isn’t imagination any more. By memorizing it, you gave it the same authority as something that has actually happened.

The best approach is preventative. Worry so masterfully the first time that you don’t need to revisit the issue. If you do keep coming back, quickly turn to the 5-4-3-2-1 to calm yourself. A calmer mind may be able to dismiss the subject.

Number Three – Rubber Band

This is therapist Jerilyn Ross’s invention. Wear a rubber band on your wrist. As soon as you are revisiting the problematic thought, snap the rubber band. After a few times, the sting of the rubber band will stand in the way of continued thought.

Number Four – Music Filters Out Plane Noises

Keep the “auditory channel” of your mind occupied. Bring along an audio player with plenty of music.

Number Five – Keep Visually Busy

Anxiety is primarily triggered by visual imagination. Though a sound may startle you, it is the visualization that you are up high that make the sound a problem. Keep the “visual channel” of your mind fully occupied with something concrete to keep imagination from gaining a foothold.

Buy several magazines with splashy color pictures. Just flip through the pictures to keep the “visual” part of your mind busy. This is a great time to focus on needlepoint or puzzles, if you like those activities. Or bring a DVD player, or a video game. Still bring magazines; you are not allowed to use the DVD player or video game during takeoff or landing.

Click Here to learn more

Capt.Tom Bunn LCSW

Licensed therapist and airline captain Tom Bunn LCSW has specialized in the treatment of fear of flying since 1980. He founded SOAR to develop methods to deal with moderate and severe cases of flight phobia.

SOAR was established in 1982 because no programs existed that could
help people with moderate to severe difficulties. Even today, no other
program offers help that is effective except for mild difficulties. No
matter how difficult flying is for you, SOAR can help visit :

Click Here for SOAR official site

16 replies on “Five Simply Ways To Help You Relax While Flying

  • Barbara

    A friend of mine used to do long division when she flew. It kept her mind busy, active and concentrating. The last time I flew I bought one of those magazines with puzzles and word games. It was great to do with my friend during the flight. It was helpful and even fun.

  • Kshitij

    I was excited to read the valuable suggestion made out here. I am committed to follow these tips and exercises and sure that many of my problems will be away soon. After being member of this site, I am gaining substantial amount of confidence.


    Hi, Joe I am 20 year old boy, it all started in the Oct. of 2009, when i suddenly feeling Panic Attacks and feeling powerless and afraid of leaving home, outerspace feelings . Actually I undergone a shoulder surgery due to a serious fracture and gets ended my career as a Basket Ball Player, suddenly everything ended for me. Then I discover your PANIC ATTACK programme in December, I started following your newsletter and it really helps me. Your programme really works Barry, now I am really a different man.
    GOD BLESS YOU, i am really thankful to you.


    Thank you , for send me a good information about flying, I just start to read all de comments you send, I will keeping on mind the exercise on, your programme really heps me. GOD BLESS YOU .



  • unknw

    i suffer 1/2 years anxiety antidepressant also panic attack i found that this programe are affective so i still recovering now. hope i claim back my beautiful life

  • Stefani

    This is great! I’m going to Greece in 2 weeks by myself and i’m 18 years old. I’ve flown this trip many times since I was little but never completely alone. I also just started suffering with anxiety recently. My only fear is the fact that I KNOW that i’m going to get anxious on a 9 hour flight for some reason and I KNOW there is no quick way out. That is what i’m fearing the most at the moment, although i’m not anxious, i have anxiety about getting anxiety. My biggest fear is having a panic attack on the plane all alone. These newsletters really help and help me feel more comfortable about flying. thanks!

  • Charlie

    Although i have a fear of flying my biggest problem is panic attacks and anxiety in life in general. Im actually finding that i can use these techniques in everyday situations too. Thank you for the advice im definitely going to try it. All these mini series are great as im not at a point at the moment where i can afford the whole thing, so i thank all you guys again 🙂

  • Maria

    Hello everyone. I purchased this program about a year ago or so and I have to tell you, it worked for me. I don’t get Panic Attacks like I used to. I am not afraid to go to Walmart or Publix anymore. I got my life back. And now, I am going to get on a plane to my vacation destination. I haven’t been on one for over 20 years. What can I say. I am dying here, but I have to face my fears. We all do. If I did it you can to. Thanks Barry

  • Maria

    Hello everyone. I purchased this program about a year ago or so and I have to tell you, it worked for me. I don’t get Panic Attacks like I used to. I am not afraid to go to Walmart or Publix anymore. I got my life back. And now, I am going to get on a plane to my vacation destination. I haven’t been on one for over 20 years. What can I say. I am dying here, but I have to face my fears. We all do. If I did it you can to.

  • abdallah ashamrani

    due to my fear of flying i was not able to fly for the last 5 years easily…i had to do it some times but with a lot of difficulty that i can not tolerate any more…i am gana practice your program and see the result…thanks sir

  • Anika

    How lovely you are to provide free emails with practical advice! Thank you for understanding. I am so grateful that there is genuine advice out there, not just to make money. I am getting on a plane in 3 weeks and although I am still terrified beyond belief, these emails seem to be helping. So very appreciated! Much good Karma to you friend! Anika 🙂

  • Lillierose Lomtsetfo Dlamini

    God Bless you; Really it is very difficult for one to explain how helpful you have been to my spirit, i salute you for having trained for something that is so helpful to me, Sometimes these funny stories about airplanes does make one nevous but as you explained i felt strong and i felt that God never leave His people because you always fly because there is a need. Thank you very much for your lecture, i really appreciate it so much, may Our Almighty God bless your work abundantly.

  • Jayne

    I really hate flying but refuse to miss out on holidays due to anxiety. It comes everywhere I go so I just tell my anxiety that it can come with me but it will not take over my life . I can cope on a plane now with small doses of diazepam but still feel the fear enough to think I’m controlling it. I like to walk about as it seems to use up time and I look at the happy people around me and think why arnt they scared ? Are they not in fear of their lives? I know this is irrational and try to think of all the flights going on in the world day in day out thousands and thousands and I tell myself well they all seem to go ok and I’ve flown before and worried so much before it which didn’t help one bit but the flight turned out ok .. These little thoughts help and I let myself “not worry ” for 10 mins sessions by thinking about the actual destination or read a mag/book or watch tv. Then I go back to worrying. I don’t listen to the security announcement either as that just sets my mind off from the start ! These tips have helped me plan my next flight .. I’m glad to hear of others anxieties as it comforts me that I’m not alone and we are all just delicate souls who don’t want to die. But I’d rather die trying than living a life ruled by anxiety x

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