Fear of Flying: The SOAR Video Course

A video course for mile high anxiety, claustrophobia, and panic

With just three weeks until my next flight, I emailed the founder of SOAR Inc to ask if he’d be interested in comping me his video course for the purpose of reviewing it.  He was. The complete course (for which I paid nothing) includes 11 DVDs, instant online viewing, and a 20-minute phone counseling session and retails for $480.

The complete course

This course covers a lot of territory.  The program promises to change how you feel before you fly and how you feel while you fly.  The various videos gauge your anxiety level during a simulated flight, explain the causes of high anxiety and panic, teach you a strengthening exercise, and educate you about turbulence and how planes work.

When fearful fliers feel a bump or hear a sound, our imaginations take over.  We fantasize horrible scenarios that are completely unrelated to reality.  The solution?  A strengthening exercise.  And lots and lots of homework.

The strengthening exercise

There is an axiom in neurology which states that neurons which fire together wire together.   In the fear of flying context, you feel the bump, imagine the engine failure, and picture the crash almost simultaneously.  Negative thoughts cluster, attack together, and automatically overwhelm you with stress hormones.

To fight fear, you need to break the thought chain apart.  First choose a moment of empathetic connectedness (which is another way of saying “a moment when you were completely happy and at peace”).  Next wrap every possible scene from a flight (both the mundane and the frightening) with the happy moment.

This is a gross oversimplification of the exercise.  At first, I found it to be easier said than done, but I improved a lot with repeat video viewings and lots of practice.

The back-up exercise

But what if you panic on the flight, even though you’ve prepared?  That’s when you whip out your deceptively simple but effective back-up exercise!   This is a relaxation technique that helps distract your mind while your body burns off stress hormones.  It’s virtually guaranteed to make you feel like a total kook, but that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.  Right?

Ready?  Let’s do it.  Focus your eyes on an object.  Slowly and (if you’re not worried about appearing crazy) out loud name five things you see in your peripheral vision, then five things you hear, then five things you feel.  Work your way down to four of each, then three, and so on.  Stop whenever you’re feeling relaxed or when the Federal Air Marshal snaps the handcuffs you, whichever happens first.

My first flight

With eight completed strengthening exercise practice sessions under my belt and armed with the back-up exercise (not to mention .25mg of Xanax even though the SOAR program officially discourages the use of it), I put the program to the test on a flight from San Francisco to Denver.  My last flight to Denver had felt like a roller coaster over the Rocky Mountains, so I wasn’t feeling very happy about this one.

I was traveling with my kids, which always increases my anxiety for two reasons: 1) I don’t want them to pick up on my terror and think we are in real danger, and 2) I feel like I can’t comfort them during turbulence when I’m terrified myself.

Ironically it was the smoothest flight I’ve taken in a long time, but I felt calmer than I had in years.

The program definitely worked for me and I think I was also buoyed by the feeling that I had taken charge of my fear.  Still, even on a smooth flight there were a handful of opportunities to remind myself of my overwhelming statistical safety and count out loud to distract my racing mind.   “I see the emergency exit.  I see an aircraft safety card.  I see a Sky Mall catalog.  I see a barf bag…”

This is the third post in a five-part series about conquering fear of flying.  Topics will include:

1.  Symptoms and causes
2.  Choosing the right treatment
3.  The SOAR video course
4.  Understanding turbulence
5.  How flying works and why it’s safe

Fear of Flying TreatmentToo busy to read all that?  Flying very soon?  The online video-based fear of flying program I tried (and highly recommend) has recently published a book called SOAR: The Breakthrough Treatment for Fear of Flying.  It’s available on Amazon for much less than the cost of the full program.

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi Jamie,
    Nice blog update. If you ever have any questions about flying feel free to email me anytime. I have a few hours under my belt. lol

    Have a wonderful day!

    Paul H.

  2. Carrie McCormick says

    I ordered just the CD with the strengthening exercises on it for $40.00 and received all the SOAR emails and it helped me to take my first flight in over 30 years. I was still a little frightened when hitting turbulence, but the strengthening exercises definitely helped with my anticipatory anxiety.

  3. Paula P. says

    Hi Jamie, I fly in 16 days and have the full SOAR course. I have studied it, but still not sure if I have the strengthening exercises down. How do you know?

  4. says

    Did you have your phone consultation yet? I practiced every single day for 14 days before my flight and felt pretty good. That said, I don’t think you’ll feel 100% calm. I still needed the back up exercises even though I prepared a lot.

  5. Mark says

    “Stop whenever you’re feeling relaxed or when the Federal Air Marshal snaps the handcuffs you, whichever happens first.”
    OMG… that’s hilarious. Thanks for the levity ;)

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