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Björn Lundström

Aviation

How to overcome your fear of flying

Fear of flying is common and can mostly be cured. To help more people overcome their fear and start enjoying flying instead, SAS pilot Björn Lundström and psychologist Cecilia Gustafsson have written the book “Flygrädd” (Fear of Flying).

One in four people find it scary to fly, and around 10 percent of these meet the criteria for flying phobia.

“SAS alone has around 35 million passengers a year, so you can appreciate how many people suffer from this. As a pilot, I would say it’s totally unnecessary to be afraid of flying and that fear of flying is an affliction you can actually overcome. We hope the book will be able to help more people do so,” says SAS pilot Lundström, who has co-written the new book with psychologist Cecilia Gustafsson.

“We complement each other very well. Cecilia Gustafsson understands the psychological side, while I can answer all those questions people who are afraid of flying ask,” Lundström says.

To overcome your fears, the co-authors recommend a method called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which entails accepting your fear but also being prepared to do something about it.


“There’s no quick fix unfortunately. It’s not simply a case of reading a few points, you have to work at it to succeed,” Lundström says.

He describes the process as like standing on a motorway with a huge truck flashing at you. If you stand your ground, you will realize the truck is not going to run you over. This makes the experience less disagreeable next time.

“Cecilia has taught me that anxiety and reason are located in two different parts of the brain, which is why you can’t cure fear by reasoning that flying is not dangerous. It’s something the person who’s afraid of flying must do for themselves.”

Lundström has been a professional pilot for over 30 years and has an Instagram account that, at time of writing, has over 73,000 followers.

“Many people get in touch to say they have a fear of flying. Now, many people also get in touch to say the book has helped them. I want more people to be able to fly more often and more happily. Being able to go on holiday and visit friends or children who live on the other side of the world without feeling sick, gives you a better quality of life.

 

Last edited: June 29, 2018

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