I think I was seven the first time I flew. I was excited about being in the air, but I was more excited about the sticker book I could play with for hours on end (the '80s version of an iPad). There may have been turbulence. There may have been disruptions. It didn't really matter because there were stickers. Lots and lots of stickers.
When we are young, we assume that someone else has it all figured out. Yet somehow, we learn to be more fearful as we get older. As time passed, my whole family flew less. When they did fly, they clutched the armrests until the plane hit the ground. I followed their example and learned to take my sweaty palms with me on the road.
I get the discomfort and reluctance, especially as the only airplane stories that make the news are the worst-case scenarios. With hundreds of flights under my belt, I still don't enjoy the midair bumps, but I do love getting to a new destination, so I bear it. I have also adapted some hacks that have helped me in my older, wiser, wimpier years. Maybe they will help you.
1. Treat yo-self.
This is the hack I have carried with me for over 10 years. I buy myself the decadent chocolate that is too expensive for a regular occurrence. Maybe your vice is the fancy cheese platter at the airport café. Bring your indulgence on the plane and when you get nervous, you will have something else to focus on that is pure pleasure.
2. Go with selective reading material.
Even if it is a business trip, you may have an hour when you can explore. You can even set some web pages up before you get on the plane to read that takes into account your interests. Golfing in British Columbia? Surfing in Portugal? Remind yourself why you are going.
3. Download some meditative music.
Some people like the sound of waves, or the sound of gongs, or even the sound of Pearl Jam. Download the stuff that brings your heart rate down when you hear it. Bring some earbuds, which can also be great to cut out noise when you are trying to sleep on longer flights.
4. Practice some simple meditations.
Focus on the breath. Focus on the expansiveness of your heart. Focus on how nervousness presents itself in your body, then moves away. All meditative techniques are perfect for when you are outside of your comfort zone. Practice one off of the plane, then bring it on the plane.
If all else fails, bring a sticker book or an adult coloring book. Your inner child knows a thing or two.