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Overcoming your fear of air travel

December 6, 2018

On an episode of “Cheers,” the often self-deceived psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane decides to help the bar’s feisty server, Carla, overcome her fear of “crashing” by launching a class for people with aviophobia (fear of flying). The final lesson is a flight, which Frasier pompously informs Carla will cure her once and for all.

But when the plane starts to shudder, Frasier becomes slightly unhinged. And when that’s followed by a pinging noise, he shouts: “We’re going down! We gotta get out of here!”

As Erica Jong, author of the 1973 feminist novel “Fear of Flying,” could have told him, way down deep almost everyone has a fear of letting go.

But air travel is incredibly safe, and a fear of flying is disproportionate to the actual danger.

If you’re part of the 30 percent of folks who are nervous fliers, here’s the trick to overcoming your anxieties:

A metastudy of available research shows that many folks with this fear spend time in the days or even weeks before a scheduled flight worrying about potential crashes and stirring up anxiety.

Learning to control cascading fears by recognizing your catastrophizing thoughts and using mindful meditation to clear them away is powerfully helpful.

Phobias tend to diminish or go away when you acknowledge them — don’t fight them — and then slowly expose yourself to the imagined risk in question.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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