Traveling can sometimes get the best of us, whether it’s stress, anxiety, or fear. Tight spaces can cause some us to feel claustrophobic while others become unnerved by heights. Our stress and anxiety can also be triggered by things that are not in our control, like turbulence and loss of luggage. This is called ‘anticipatory anxiety’ meaning that we think of negative outcomes and fear that they might happen. When this thought process occurs our brains react emotionally instead of logically making it difficult to distinguish real and imminent danger. In order to calm down we first need to be mindful of our bodies and determine where the built up energy is coming from. Once we can identify what’s causing our stress, phobia, or anxiety we can practice some meditation techniques to ensure we have a calm and relaxed flight.
First, start a busy travel day by taking long, deep breaths down through the diaphragm and exhale slowly; focusing on breathing can help combat anxiety which can cause our heart rates to increase, our breath to quicken, and our bodies to tense up. Making sure our breath is steady and rhythmic can prevent us from hyperventilating. After taking several deep breaths, we should notice our body feels more relaxed because our hormones are being regulated and our stress is decreasing, inducing muscle relaxation. To avoid anxiety while traveling, practice steady breathing on the way to the airport, before take off, and after landing.
Targeting certain pressure points on our bodies can also help us to relax. Pressure points are areas on our body that trigger various effects, in our bodies and minds, when pressure is applied. There are certain points on our bodies that can calm our nerves, reduce stress, and even relieve tension head aches caused by anxiety. Using your right thumb, apply pressure at the center of your palm on your left hand. Push down firmly and rub your thumb in a circular motion to get positive energy flowing. This pressure point is part of an energy channel that is connected to our livers. It is believed that most of the stress we experience is stored in our livers. Another point to apply pressure to is on our scalp; use two fingers to apply pressure where the scalp meets the neck. Gently dig the fingers into the little groove and hold for 20 seconds at a time. Stress can ‘weigh us down’ and accumulate on our shoulders and neck so applying pressure right above the two muscles can help to reduce a lot of tension and stress.
The last trick we use to remain calm while traveling is staying busy. If we focus all of our energy on our fear there’s no wonder it’s making us upset. Distracting ourselves by doing a crossword puzzle, playing a game of Sudoku, or reading engages our brain and keeps it from worrying about what could go wrong around us, helping us conquer whatever fear we are battling.