I Want to Fly

Question: I recently got a dream job — except that it requires me to travel quite a fair bit. The truth is, I have a fear of flying, and on the few occasions I have been in a plane (for short family trips), my heart was pounding hard, and my hands were clammy. I really want to overcome this fear. Is there anything I can do about it? And should I inform my new employer?

Answer: It is courageous of you to take the plane for your family trips despite your fear of flying. Facing your fear instead of avoiding it is the first step towards overcoming the phobia.

To manage your anxiety symptoms, practise calming techniques such as deep breathing (breathing slowly into your diaphragm), muscle relaxation (tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes, and progressively working your way up to the neck and head), or visualisation (forming a comforting image in your mind).

You can also reassure yourself with positive statements such as “I can get through this” or “Just because this feels dangerous does not mean it is actually so”.

Related: Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Alternatively, consult a psychologist to work on challenging the anxiety-provoking thoughts that contribute to your fear of flying, and learn specific ways to manage those feelings.

Lastly, you may wish to inform your new employer about your condition. This is to enable their understanding, and perhaps reduce the frequency and distance of the flights in the initial period while you work on coping with this fear.

Ms Cheak Ching Cheng
Clinical Psychologist
Institute Of Mental Health

Related: Understanding Anxiety

He Keeps Losing It

A couple sitting separately on the bed after an argument

Question: My partner and I have been together for over eight years. At times, he goes into a fit of anger during which he becomes verbally abusive, and picks on me over the most trivial matter. After that, he behaves like nothing had happened. (Or at least he doesn’t talk about it.) It is mentally exhaustive for me to go through these repeated episodes. How can I help him to control his anger? Could he be bipolar or suffering from other forms of mental disorder?

Answer: On days when your partner is agitated, take a step back and let him cool down. Let him know that you notice he is upset, and ask if he needs some personal space and time.

When he feels calmer, gently broach the subject with him and find out if there are any triggers that may be prompting his turbulent reactions. Should these triggers be things you can help him with, ask if you can be involved in helping him to manage or resolve those issues. This is to make him feel supported and know that he is not facing the issues alone.

At the same time, do not respond to your partner with angry words as this will likely stir up more anger in him. If these methods are not effective, seek psychological therapy to help him manage his emotions. If you still have concerns about whether he may be suffering from any mental-health condition, accompany him to see a mental health professional.

Ms Elaine Sum
Clinical Psychologist
Institute Of Mental Health

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