On one of the first international flights I took travelling alone as a newly-minted adult, I didn't do too well. I could only sit there pretty rigid as we prepared for takeoff, with tears slowly running down the face (not due to homesickness - I was escaping from there!). This guy sitting next to me took one look at me and started talking. He talked for the better part of an hour. For the first few I thought he was obnoxious, but then I started paying attention. Turns out he was a factory owner from Bangladesh. He got his wallet out and produced some local currency - stuff had probably 8 or 9 different scripts on it, each of which he then expounded upon... official languages... history of India... his factory... and then I noticed we had long since been at cruising altitude.
I sincerely thanked the old man (I was 18 at the time) - he had purposely distracted me. Can't say it will work for the kind of fears you all describe, but I was grateful for his help nonetheless.