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Your Life: Fly fearlessly IN 10 EASY STEPS...

Byline: BY NATHALIE GIBBINS

THE horrific plane crash in Greece last weekend could have shaken the confidence of even the most experienced traveller. Many of us still have holidays booked and may be feeling more nervous than usual about the prospect of jetting off to the sun.

Our 10-step plan will help make your trip less daunting...

1 Stay sober As tempting as it is to down several vodkas at the airport - don't. "Alcohol causes blood sugar to surge and then drop quickly. Low blood sugar can make you more prone to a panic attack," warns Nicky Lidbetter from the National Phobics Society. But if you can't resist, be sensible.

"If you must drink, keep it to a minimum and make sure you drink lots of water to keep hydrated," says Cliff Arnall, a pilot and psychologist who specialises in flying phobias (www.nopills.demon.co.uk).

Try a natural cure instead - Bach's Rescue Remedy, pounds 6.49, contains flower extracts to instantly calm you. It's surprisingly effective. Spray two squirts on your tongue when you feel tense.

2 Sit up front Sit at the front of the cabin where the air is fresher and it is quieter. You'll also be near the toilets, just in case your anxiety causes you to need the loo quickly.

"Nervous flyers worry they'll make a fool of themselves, which increases anxiety, so sit up front and you'll see fewer people to worry about," says Nicky.

3Don't be shy "Make the cabin crew aware of your fears. They can explain exactly what is happening during each stage of the flight to help reassure you," says Cliff.

4Relax "Breathe in slowly through your nose, pushing your stomach out and filling your lungs from the bottom. Hold for a few seconds before exhaling through your mouth, making a sighing noise. Repeat three times. Do this when you start feeling stressed, not when already panicking," says Kate Kardi, a life and confidence coach and founder of Life Designing.

5Talk to people There is no shame in being scared of flying and discussing your fears is a great way to try to overcome them. "Having a flying buddy helps," says Kate. "If you're alone, chat to the people near you. Tell them you're nervous. Chances are they'll be happy to reassure you." And remember you're not alone. There will be at least one person on the flight more scared than you.

6Distract yourself "Stock up on magazines, bring a a book, listen to music, do a crossword, just keep your mind busy," says Nicky. "Or close your eyes and imagine being on the beach. This helps you hook into relaxation response rather than stress response."

7Eat sensibly Avoid sugary snacks and drinks. Like alcohol, they cause blood sugar to rise and then fall sharply. Avoid tea and coffee, too. "Caffeine triggers your body to produce adrenalin - something you will already be producing plenty of through nerves. Instead drink lots of water and eat fresh fruit, which will keep you hydrated and your energy balanced. Bananas are especially good for calming due to their natural sedative effect.

8Think about the pilot "Remind yourself that the pilot is a real person who probably has a family and wants to reach the destination in one piece as much as you do. If there was even an inkling that something was wrong, he or she wouldn't fly. Becoming a pilot takes years of training and if there is a problem once you're airborne, the cockpit crew is able to deal with it," says Cliff.

9Get in the know "It is fear of the unknown that adds to your nervousness and learning what is going on will give you a sense of control. Ask the cabin crew to talk you through the noises and movements," says Cliff. Or visit www.theflyingbook.com which puts things into perspective. Every time you feel the fear rising, remind yourself that your risk of dying on a flight is about one in five million. Flying on a major airline is safer than cycling, swimming and X-rays. Statistically, you've got more chance dying taking a bath than on a plane.

10Retrain your mind Teach yourself to overcome your fears. Listen to InnerTalk Freedom from Fears, pounds 22.99 (01628 898366). This relaxing music CD contains affirmations such as 'I am in control' and 'I am free of fear' that will teach your subconscious mind to stop being fearful.

CONTACTS:

Cliff Arnall 01874 623 546 Cliff@nopills.demon.co.uk

Kate Kardi: 01629 583583

Nicky Lidbetter: national phobic@btconnect.com

FEAR OF FLYING COURSES

MANY airlines run fear of flying courses which involve speaking to psychologists and pilots and taking a real or simulated flight. Courses cost from pounds 250. Contact Virtual Aviation which runs the British Airways course on 0870 350 0767 or for a Virgin Atlantic course, call 01423 714900 or visit www.flyingwithoutfear. info

FOR MORE ADVICE

CALL the National Phobics Society on 0870 122 2325 or visit www.phobics-society.org.uk and www.anxietyandstress.com
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 17, 2005
Words:840
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