If you plan on traveling long distance, you’ll most likely have to book a flight, which means one day you’ll encounter the scariest part of flying the friendly skies—air turbulence. Flight attendants will assure you there’s nothing to be afraid of when your plane is flying against the wind. But when the aircraft starts to violently shake, bounce, and move erratically, even the most seasoned frequent flyer starts to think otherwise. Usually there’s no reason to panic of there being a possible threat to your plane, but in the moment, it can be difficult to relax during takeoff and landing.
Not to worry, though. We’ve unearthed two simple and smart techniques to combat your nervousness and fear of flying. And the best part is that neither remedy involves dramamine or a pre-flight alcoholic beverage. Want to know the secret? It's all in the stroke of a pen and a drinking straw. But don’t just take our word for it. Watch pilot Captain Ron Neilsen explain during his recent appearance on the TODAY show, where he divulged the following tried-and-true techniques:
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1. Write your name down over and over.
Sure, focusing on your name will keep you distracted when turbulence strikes. However, writing it with the opposite hand you wouldn’t normally use temporarily suspends those fearful thoughts.
“Just keep writing your name,” said Captain Neilsen to the show's producer. “It first causes her to focus extra-hard on what she’s doing, because she doesn’t normally write with her other hand—and not on the turbulence. And the second thing is, it’s actually crossing over her motor function in her brain. Using the other side of her brain from what she would normally do, we’re disrupting the thinking.”
2. Breathe through a straw.
According to Captain Neilsen, breathing through a drinking straw “restricts air flow and prevents hyperventilation,” which just makes anxiety much worse.
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If you think of turbulence as a mere bump in the road, rather than giving rise to the fear that the plane is going down, you’ll be able to keep calm—just as long as you’ve got a pen and a drinking straw in your carry-on.