You are lost in the pages of a Camilla Läckberg mystery, feeling relaxed and happily anticipating the moment when the Florida Keys vibes stir up your inner wildness, when your voice of your pilot cuts into your bubble of joy, announcing that you are about to experience some turbulence … and your heart starts to beat a little faster, a physical flutter of anxiety starts to build in your stomach and you close your eyes.
If you dread turbulence, if you become authentically frightened when the airplane you are sitting on begins to jolt in unpredictable ways, you should know that you can conquer this fear, or at least wrestle it into submission.
Turbulence is almost never dangerous
Fear is a useful emotion or feeling: If you are standing at the edge of a cliff that plummets to the cold North Atlantic Ocean in February, and you feel the wind rising, it is fear that will prompt you to walk away to a safe place. Fear can be our best friend.
But sometimes we fear something that we don’t have to fear, like turbulence. You may be thinking that is absolutely rational to experience fear when sitting in a airplane that is being tossed around the sky at 10,000 feet about the security of the ground. (And you make a compelling point.)
But, turbulence is common and almost always harmless.
Only about 20 people out of the 800 million or so who fly in America every year are injured as a result of turbulence. Hint: This is a great mantra to repeat to yourself the next time your airplane flies through a rough patch of air.
So why is the airplane jostling around?
High winds, being near to a mountain, the jet stream and other factors cause predictable turbulence: Pilots are trained to deal with turbulence and aircrafts are built to withstand it. Turbulence is no more than a rough patch in the air; pilots expect it and know how to deal with it.
I know it is irrational but I still fear turbulence
You are a human being, and we sometimes fear things that we don’t have to. But knowing that we do not have to fear turbulence can really help us deal with our fear and how it makes us feel.
Remember, turbulence is nothing more than air currents: That’s all. And pilots understand how to fly in air currents and airplanes are built to do so.
Try these proven techniques the next time that your pilot informs you that there is some turbulence in your immediate future:
- Bring a special treat with you when you fly, like a Black Praline Goldbar from Switzerland (seriously delicious). If turbulence is announced, slowly unwrap your treat and lose yourself in its sinfulness; when you look up, it will all be over.
- The human body reacts immediately to fear; we begin to breath more quickly. Fool your body by closing your eyes and inhaling deeply through your nose, filling up your lower lungs and then your upper lungs. You should then hold while counting to 3 before exhaling through your lips, while consciously relaxing your facial muscles. Repeat.
To learn more about breathing techniques, visit The Tiny Buddha.
- Tell yourself what you know to be true: Turbulence is safe; your plane is just flying through some wind currents.
- Bring along a stress ball to calmly squeeze during the flight, expelling excess nervous energy from your body as you do so.
Air travel has shrunk the earth, meaning that many of us have become explorers, waking up in magical places far from our homes. Don’t let a fear a turbulence keep you grounded.