“Leaving the ground scares people,” says Jeffrey Rose, a clinical hypnotist in New York. “It’s mostly because flying is something they cannot control.” What people can control, however, is how they think—which is where hypnosis comes in. During a session, Rose guides a patient into a hypnotic state, in which he introduces patient-specific positive, therapeutic suggestions as a replacement for a particular fear or habit. At its most basic, Rose says, “hypnosis replaces the negative ‘My plane is going to crash’ with ‘My flight will be safe.’” Beyond controlling your thinking, you can also manage your behavior. “That gives you an additional sense of control over the experience of flying and helps make you a more confident flier,” Rose says. A few lifestyle changes will “get your overall stress level down before you fly,” he explains, “which will put you in a better position to successfully cope with your flight-related anxiety.” As with any lifestyle change, it’s far easier said than done. Like, for starters, getting enough sleep several nights before a flight (even if that directive flies in the face of all the last- minute tasks and packing required before a trip).
Leading up to a flight, Rose, also a nutritionist, suggests avoiding caffeine (another cortisol- booster) and alcohol (which is dehydrating and elevates your heart rate), and drinking lots of water. So if you can’t bide your time before the preboarding announcement at Starbucks or the airport bar, what exactly should you do? “Well, exercise reduces stress hormones,” Rose points out. “Walk the terminal.