How To Stay Calm During Turbulence – Do you suffer from a fear of flying? Well next time you’re off to the airport, be sure to pack a pen and paper in your hand luggage.
Captain Ron Nielsen, pilot and 40-year veteran of the airline industry, claims that these two items are the key to keeping calm on a crazy flight.
How To Stay Calm During Turbulence
If you’re a nervous flyer, the key may be to take a pen and paper with you on a flightCredit: Getty Images
The Best Way To Ride Out Air Turbulence
Captain Nielsen, who teaches classes on conquering aerophobia, revealed the secret trick to clearing your mind during a recent appearance on the America’s Today show.
Forget pills, meditation and potions – all you have to do is write your name with the wrong hand.
He said: “Put [a] pen in the opposite hand from the one you normally use, and write your name.
He continued: “First it forces you to focus extra on what you are doing, because you usually don’t write with the other hand… and not on the turmoil.
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“And the second thing is, you’re actually sharing [your] motor function in [your] brain, using the other side of [your] brain than [you] normally do. We’re disrupting thinking.”
More and more of us may resort to this trick in the future, as climate change will make flying uncomfortable.
A recent scientific study found that flight turbulence is about to get worse, with a projected increase this year alone of 149 percent in severe turbulence, 94 percent in moderate turbulence and 59 in -hundred in mild turmoil.
Flight turbulence is about to take a dramatic turn for the worse, thanks to climate changeCredit: Getty Images
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JUST IN CASE The packing guru reveals the ULTIMATE solution to squeeze the best out of baggage restrictions on airplanes. It’s an all-too-familiar experience to air travelers: One minute the flight is going smoothly, and the next thing you know the plane feels like it’s bumping and shaking in all directions.
Turbulence is a very common part of air travel, but that doesn’t make it any less unpleasant. In fact, research has shown that turbulence is one of the biggest causes of flying anxiety, as many passengers tend to catastrophize and take it as a sign that the plane is going down.
If you’re someone who gets anxious when you’re on a plane that hits a stretch of rough air, there are ways to avoid a spiral. We asked some of the most seasoned flyers ― flight attendants ― to share their tips for calming nerves during turbulence:
“First and foremost, understand that the plane is designed to fly through turbulence,” said Laura Nottingham, an Atlanta-based flight attendant with Delta Air Lines. “There is nothing wrong with the plane. Pilots are highly trained professionals and know how to handle turbulence expertly. There are several reasons why turbulence occurs: wind, changes in air temperature, thunderstorms, etc.
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She believes that the best way to deal with fear is to understand it, so learning about the science of turbulence can put anxious passengers at ease. Focus on the facts to avoid escalating into a state of worry.
“Air turbulence is a common occurrence. It’s a helpful technique to reduce travelers’ anxiety by helping them understand the effects of turbulence,” echoed Yulanda Armstrong, Eastern Airlines flight attendant and air transportation ground instructor at – Guyana. “In most cases, turbulence appears more detrimental than it appears. The industry should communicate the rhetoric that ‘turbulence should be expected instead of feared.’
“I personally have suffered from anxiety since my teenage years,” said Doménica Jiménez, an Ecuador-based flight attendant with Eastern Airlines. “Part of what helps me now in my career in the heavens is slow breathing. Being aware of my breath by slowing the inhalation and exhalation was a game changer. It helps me stay calm during the turmoil and do my job too.”
Meditation company Headspace has partnered with a number of airlines, including JetBlue Airways and United Airlines, to provide guided relaxation in flight. Nottingham noted that Delta now offers meditation classes led by Peloton instructors as part of its entertainment options.
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“Meditate or take deep breaths to help slow your breathing,” she advises, adding that short meditations can help passengers feel more aware and comfortable during a flight.
“What better way to relax than by distracting yourself?” Nottingham said. “Take advantage of the time you have during the flight to read a book, listen to music, or do that to-do list.”
Explore movies and shows on your seatback screen or download your pre-flight entertainment. If you’re traveling with a companion, talk to them about something unrelated to the flight. The idea is to keep your mind focused.
“What I will typically do is engage the passenger in a friendly unrelated conversation to ease their mind from any anxious thoughts that may come during the turbulence,” Jiménez said. “I also offer them something to drink. A smile and a distraction go a long way.”
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Fortunately, there are tricks to help ease the feelings of nausea. If you feel yourself starting to feel nauseous, Nottingham suggested contacting a flight attendant and asking for an ice pack.
“Let your flight attendant know if you have anxiety, so we can support you during your trip,” said Kim Howard, a Connecticut-based Avelo Airlines flight attendant.
“I’ve had customers come on the plane in tears,” she added. “I’ll whisper to them, ‘Are you an anxious flyer?’ They’ll say, ‘Yes, I hate confusion.’ I’ll ask for their seat number and reassure them before take-off and check on them throughout the flight.”
She emphasized that flight attendants do more than just hand out snacks. They are also trained to maintain order and promote safety ― and they do so with a good heart. So don’t hesitate to reach out if you need reassurance or even a moment of distraction.
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The flight attendants know the ins and outs of the plane and can help you if you feel anxious.
If turbulence makes you anxious, pay attention to cockpit announcements, as pilots often give passengers a warning of anticipated rough air.
“An announcement from our captain during the turmoil goes a long way,” Howard said. “The captain often assures the customers that the turbulence will be for a short period of time during the changes in altitude. Of course, there are different levels of turbulence. Some are more severe than others. However, it is often mild and for short periods of time.”
If you notice that the plane is not full and you feel uncomfortable or unsafe where you are, consider asking the flight attendant for a seat change.
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“In the East, if we notice that a passenger is really nervous about his journey in the skies, and is sitting towards the back, we offer to re-accommodate them in another part of the plane where the turbulence can be felt lighter, like the front of the plane or near the wings,” said Jiménez.
“I’ve met passengers whose reactions to turbulence have ranged from mild to severe anxiety throughout my career,” Armstrong said. “My ideal technique is reassurance. Passengers need to know they are safe.”
Whenever she feels anxious at work, Armstrong reminds herself that she is equipped with the skills and knowledge to remedy difficult situations and is responsible for the safety of all passengers. This understanding ― that trained professionals like Armstrong are in control ― can help ease passenger anxiety as well.
“During a flight when I experienced passengers with high anxiety, which hindered their ability to cooperate with our procedures, I announced, ‘Gentlemen, keep calm.’ The flight attendants have the situation under control,'” she recalled. “Immediately, the passengers were calm and cooperative.”
How To Calm Anxiety During Turbulence, According To Flight Attendants
Jiménez said she reminds anxious passengers that aircraft are one of the safest means of transportation and that pilots and flight attendants are highly trained professionals.
“While flying in the sky can be daunting, the plane is designed to keep us safe and all the staff on board are trained to keep you safe and comfortable,” she noted.
Alleviating your anxiety around turbulence starts before you even get on board. If you take care of yourself and your body before the flight, you will feel more comfortable on board.
“It’s always best to be well prepared for your flight,” Howard said. “I hydrate the night before. Bring your favorite snacks, books, magazines, and, nowadays, you can download movies or TV shows. The more prepared you are the better you will have a less anxious flight.”
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