Under the Hood

Best Tips To Stay Calm Amid Extreme Turbulence

When the pilot warns about a possible turbulence, some people start feeling stress. The sudden movements of the plane could trigger the release of stress hormones, which makes the brain think you are in danger and in some cases causes panic.

Turbulence commonly occurs because of thunderstorm, jet stream activity or just the heat from the sun. However, airlines are unable to tell when it will happen. 

Available technology only helps predict the conditions that may produce turbulence. But such  irregular air movements is not a safety issue. 

Most of reported turbulence-related injuries were self-inflicted, like ignoring the seat belt sign. The number of people injured during turbulence remained low in the past years, with 50 recorded cases between 2015 and 2017, Psychology Today reported.

All of those patients were found noncompliant with instructions to wear their seat belt during flight. But to some passengers, turbulence causes fear not because of the injuries they heard. 

It makes them feel that the plane will crash. That is because the amygdala in the brain is programmed to react to unexpected downward motion. 

It responds by releasing stress hormones. This then makes people feel they are in danger during a turbulence 

“As the turbulence continues, stress hormone release continues, and alarm continues,” Tom Bunn, an airline pilot and author of “Soar: The Breakthrough Treatment For Fear Of Flying,” said in an article posted on Psychology Today. “Rising stress hormone levels flood the person with feelings experienced when in danger, such as a pounding heartbeat, difficulty breathing, sweating, and tension.”

How To Stay Calm During Turbulence

Automatic Alarm Down-Regulation

This exercise was designed to help people manage stressful situations. You have to imagine someone close to you and how they react, talk and touch you. 

Think about three buttons that are connected to that person. The first button forms the image of your friend when pressed. 

The second one works by making that person smile and greet you in a special way. And the last one should make your friend touch or hug you. 

Remember the feeling you get when you press each button and your friend responds. Do you feel calm when he/she smiles, talks or hugs you? 

Practice it daily before your flight to trigger automatic alarm down-regulation. 

Think About What Holds The Plane Up

When turbulence occurs and you can’t stop thinking that the plane is going to crash, think about what is holding it up, Bunn noted. Knowing how the plane works can help you understand the situation and remain calm during sudden air movements. 

Remember That It Only Feels As If The Plane Is Going Down

Turbulence may feel just like when you are driving your car on a bumpy road and it is a long up-and-down path ahead of you. Wear your seat belt. The more you move inside, the higher the risk for you to get injured. 

airplane Turbulence commonly occurs because of thunderstorm, jet stream activity or just the heat from the sun. Pixabay