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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Your Well Being — Holiday travel and anxiety

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With the holiday season approaching, air travel is often required. For some, this produces anxiety. Anxiety is caused by triggers that create a mental image and starts a fear response in our body.

It’s very common to feel nervous while flying, especially when a plane goes through a bit of turbulent air. The bumps are the trigger for a mental image that something dangerous is happening, starting the body’s natural anxiety response. But factually, nothing dangerous is happening. Flying is extremely safe and turbulence is not dangerous.

Try the “Jello Exercise” developed by Capt. Tom Bunn, LCSW from SOAR, which helps people to visualize the physics of flight.

Try putting your hand out the window of a car at 50 mph and push forward. It takes the same effort as pushing your hand though water. This means 50 mph air is as thick as water. The faster you go, the thicker the air becomes. An airliner travels at 300 to 500 mph. At that speed, air is like Jello for a plane.

Imagine for a moment, that a toy plane is suspended in Jello. Shake the Jello. No matter how hard you shake it, turbulence can’t make the plane come loose or plunge. The Jello is holding the plane just like air holds real plane up at 500 mph. Turbulence cannot break the hold. Once a plane reaches “Jello- speed”, it is suspended in Jello-like air and the engines make the plane cut forward through the Jello.

If you fly during the holidays, imagine the air getting thicker as the plane goes faster until it is like Jello. Then, as the plane’s nose rises, imagine the plane being shoved forward through Jello-like air by the engines. When people begin to see a new mental image of flying based on facts, then anxiety should subside or at least be more tolerable.

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Jeff Larson MSW
Jeff Larson MSWhttp://www.DunhamCounseling.com
Jeff Larson, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is president of Dunham Counseling Center, which has offices in downtown Naperville and in St. Charles. He can be reached at 630-444-1801 or JLarson@DunhamCounseling.com.

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