Make fear take flight
While air travel may have made the world a global village for most people, the prospect of boarding a plane is a nightmare for those who suffer from fear of flying. According to the US National Institute of Mental Health, aerophobia affects 6.5 per cent of the population. Fear of flying may stem from a single bad experience or, as in the case of mother of four Henrietta White*, a combination of factors. ‘The murder of a close friend increased my anxiety and triggered in-flight claustrophobia and panic. I even found myself catastrophising that fellow passengers with small bags were terrorists,’ she explains.
Henrietta’s physical symptoms, which are common to many sufferers, included sweaty palms, tightness in her chest, not being able to breathe properly, headache and upset stomach. The fear became so overwhelming that last year, at 4am on the morning she was due to fly off on the ‘dream holiday’ her husband had booked, she refused to go. ‘The children cried and screamed because they had missed the plane. That finally made me decide it was time to confront my fears.’
So she booked on BA ’s Flying with Confidence course, which is run monthly at London Heathrow airport (also Gatwick, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, New York, Johannesburg and Dubai).
BA captains Steve Allright and Peter Hughes designed the ten-hour course, which has been running for 28 years. They aim to change participants’ attitudes to flying and give them the tools and knowledge to take control of mind and body. The course includes five hours in a classroom covering technical aspects of flying with Captain Allright, followed by psychologist Dr Keith Stoll explaining causes of the phobia and offering solutions, principally relaxation techniques and muscle tension practices.
After a visualisation flight indoors, participants embark on a 45-minute round trip from Heathrow to the Isle of Wight. ‘Captain Allright talked us through every noise and turn over the Tannoy. The yapping dog sound from the wing is caused by the hydraulic power transfer unit, for instance. As the plane landed, everyone looked relieved that the flight was over but more importantly that they had done it,’ says Henrietta.
The success rate for the course is 98 per cent, averaged from feedback forms submitted on the day and for a year afterwards (passengers whose phobia returns are encouraged to repeat the flight part). Henrietta booked a family holiday to Greece the following week. ‘I was very nervous outbound, but the return flight was virtually fear-free.’
• BA Flying With Confidence course, from £199/www.flyingwithconfidence.com; for children and teenagers call 01252 793250. The book Flying With Confidence by Patricia Furness-Smith and Captain Steve Allright is published by Vermilion, price £10.99
MOST COMMON PHOBIAS
• Public speaking 74 per cent
• Death 68 per cent
• Spiders 30.5 per cent
• Darkness 11 per cent
• Heights 10 per cent
• People/social situations 7.9 per cent
• Flying 6.5 per cent
• Confined spaces 2.5 per cent
• Open spaces 2.2 per cent
• Thunder and lightning 2 per cent
HOW TO TACKLE CHILDHOOD ECZEMA
A colleague’s eight-year-old daughter has dry, itchy eczema, a type that is very common in childhood, in the crook of her elbows and behind her knees. She recommends the following remedies…
• Use non-irritating, non-biological cleaning products, laundry liquid and soap. Try Method products for clothes and bath cleaning (www.methodproducts.co.uk) and the Malki Dead Sea range of soaps (www.boots.com).
• Invest in pure cotton or bamboo bedding, towels and clothing. Bamboo bed linen is available from www.betweenthesheets.co.uk and other online suppliers.
• Try alternating topical products, switching as you finish a pot. Skin may become tolerant of ingredients and this regime seems to keep it calmer. Here are the ranges that perform best for my colleague’s daughter:
• PurePotions Skin Salvation Bath and Body Oil/£12.99 for 200 ml at www.purepotions.co.uk. Regular bathing is important for keeping irritated skin clean. This omega-rich product stops skin drying out in bath water.
• Carun All-purpose Hemp Ointment/£16.99 for 105 ml at www.carunpharmacy.co.uk. A good barrier cream which can be used before swimming. It is based on a paraffin compound, with organic hemp extract, which has been shown to help a range of skin conditions, plus essential oils.
• Children usually wash their hair in the bath so you need a shampoo that won’t aggravate eczema on their body. Childs Farm Hair & Body Wash in Organic Sweet Orange/£3.99 for 250ml at www.boots.com.
WEBSITE OF THE WEEK; www.glowinthepark.co.uk
You don’t have to be a runner to join this 5km after-dark fun run through specially created ‘glow zones’ – you can jog, walk or dance round instead, firing up the glow factor with head torches, fluoro face paint or flashing high-vis clothing. Do a sponsored run for your favourite charity or donate to principal partner charity Humanity Direct. Venues include Bath and Windsor (April), Barcelona (October) and London (November).
SIT UP AND LISTEN
Human beings were not designed to sit for long periods, as many of us do, and few of us sit well: we slouch or let our heads poke forwards, causing neck, shoulder and backache. That’s where a thumb-sized gadget called the Lumo Lift can be helpful. Worn near your collarbone under clothing, it vibrates when you slouch, then stops when your body realigns. It comes with an activity tracker app to download. Our tester’s posture improved noticeably and, to his surprise, he did not find it irritating. Lumo Lift Posture and Activity Coach, £79.99, from the Apple Store and Amazon.