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How to beat aeroanxiety and more
Tom Bunn L.C.S.W.
Our survival as a species was made possibly by the development of an ability to send and receive signals that we are safe when we are with a person who is trustworthy.
Understanding that a plane moves less than we thought is a good place to start if we want to stop feeling afraid when in turbulence.
Our defenses must be invisible to us, for if were we to become aware of them and how we use them to alter reality, we would no longer be able to believe our distorted reality.
Using Facebook to collect data is unscientific. Yet, major publications are putting out articles on officer suicide with statistics based on what is being said on social media.
The parasympathetic nervous system is activated by the face, voice quality, and body-language of a person who is no threat psychologically or physically.
What "The Princess and the Pea" teaches us about anxiety and panic.
If anxiety is getting in your way, you can train your parasympathetic nervous system to kick in when you are stressed, down-regulate anxiety, and protect your clear thinking.
In a state of panic, you are frozen. But you can train your body to stop stress from building into panic.
Overthinking is impaired thinking that happens when a person does not have the psychological processes needed to activate calm.
This strategy controls anxiety and panic during takeoff, cruising up high, and in turbulence. It also controls anxiety and panic in elevators, on bridges, in tunnels, and MRIs.
To be more comfortable when you don't have a friend with you, pre-link your friend’s presence to an upcoming challenging situation.
Engine failures are rare. An airline pilot who had one told me, "It just seemed like I was in the simulator. It really didn't get me excited."
The worst crash in aviation history occurred when a captain believed he was cleared for takeoff and dismissed his copilot's doubts. There is a lesson there for all of us.
To avoid falling prey to our own imagination, we need to maintain a sense of what kind of mental processing is going on, so we know when what we have in mind isn't real.
The parasympathetic nervous system is designed by nature to oppose the sympathetic nervous system and keep it from causing hyperarousal. Here's how to put it to use.
Breathing exercises cause relaxation when breathing out. In a quiet place, relaxation may carry over when breathing in. But when flying, all bets are off when there is turbulence.
Sometimes it is terribly uncomfortable being right. When you are, what do you do about it? Do you speak out and accept conflict, or stay silent to avoid criticism?
Nothing calms a child as effectively as a calm and non-critical caregiver. Consider "installing" an app to activate your calming system quickly so you can better calm your child.
In an emergency, we need to figure out what to do. But high-level thinking can't function in a state of alarm. How do some of us stay cool, calm, and collected in an emergency?
Inhibit up-regulation with oxytocin-producing memory links, and activate down-regulation with links to a calming friend's face, voice, and touch.
If protecting our ego is more important than protecting our life, something about the human condition is illuminated.
Avoidance is a limited strategy. We can't avoid everything that revs us up. What we really need is an effective way to calm down.
Calming signals from another person's face, voice quality, and body-language can deactivate our innate response to threats.
When a specific crash comes to mind, anxious fliers are drawn to two troubling thoughts. These thoughts are why the MAX has a public relations problem.
Industrial respirators are being used in hospitals when N95 respirators are in short supply. They are being used also because most staff feel better protected by them.
Your mask protects others, not you. Masks that others wear protect you, but not perfectly. Respirators may help.
Panic is not caused by irrational thinking. Panic results when imaginary threats are mistaken for real threats.
When feelings of alarm persist, executive function can't determine whether the danger is real or imaginary. The key to preventing panic is down-regulating alarm. How is it done?
When a plane is out of service for an extended time, there are only a few maintenance issues that arise. Planes are completely inspected before returning to service.
Childhood experiences can link arousal to fear, and fear to danger. As an adult, though they no longer need to be linked, they often are and cause completely unnecessary anxiety.
Captain Tom Bunn, LCSW, is an airline pilot and author who has dedicated 30 years to the development of effective methods for treating flight phobia.
Fear of flying can start after a bad flight. It can also start for no apparent reason. Airline captain and therapist Tom Bunn, L.C.S.W. offers his understanding of the cause and the cure of flight difficulties