As Canadians and the world grapple with the news of a plane crash that claimed so many lives, some are also beginning to worry about flying.
On Wednesday, a Boeing 737-800 from Tehran to Kyiv caught fire and crashed six minutes after taking off. All 176 passengers and crew on board were killed and 138 of these passengers were heading to Canada.
“We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence, that indicates the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile,” he said. “This may well have been unintentional.”
Ryerson University tourism expert Frederic Dimanche tells Global News he’s not surprised countries are putting up travel advisories after this tragic crash, and says tourists and visitors will be avoiding the region for a while.
Global Affairs Canada urged Canadians to avoid any non-essential travel to Iran in a statement on Wednesday.
But flying in general for some can be nerve-wracking, especially after a crash like this one.
Fears of planes crashing
Christine Korol, previously told Global News there are two things that scare people about flying: those who worry about having a panic attack and being trapped; and those who worry the plane is going to go down.
Korol, a psychologist at the Vancouver Anxiety Centre, says educating yourself about what turbulence is and how planes work can help, but it’s not the solution for everyone.
“You can understand something intellectually but still be afraid of it,” Korol said.
She says the first step is visualizing yourself coping with the anxiety. “I typically have them write down the narrative they’re afraid of, and I look for the ‘hot spots’ in their writing,” she said.
“Hot spots” are the more catastrophic outcomes, including plane crashes.
She also suggests writing yourself notes of comfort.
Trip coming up soon? Here are some expert tips
Renee Raymond, a registered psychotherapist based in Toronto, says there are several things Canadians can do to cope with fears of flying, especially if they have an upcoming trip.
Be mindful of your over-exposure to information.
“Balancing being informed about flight disasters and over-exposure is important,” she said.
“Knowing key details can be helpful to understand a tragedy, but it’s also important to limit repeated exposure to media coverage and graphic scenes.”
Anxiety and fear also live in the body.
“As much as we can have distressing thoughts about flying, our bodies often react to the stress as well,” she said.
“See if you can identify where you feel distress in your body, create some tension, and gently release it. Taking slow, even breaths as you do this can help your body to relax when you’re holding onto tension.”
And like any stressful situations, it is important to ground yourself.
“Grounding techniques, such as trying to notice five things you can see and five things you can feel, can help you to bring your mind back into the present,” she said.
“If you notice that unhelpful thoughts about flying repeatedly come to mind, acknowledge rather than fight them, and then try to bring your mind back into the present.”
And lastly, be kind to yourself.
“It’s more than understandable that after a tragedy that we become more fearful of particular activities and places,” she said.
“Try to engage in activities which are energy-building and enjoyable to give yourself a break. It may be a good time to speak to a confidante about how you’re feeling, or a mental health care professional, if your symptoms continue to persist.”
— with files from Meghan Collie