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FEAR OF FLYING? How to avoid a mid-air anxiety attack?

In most cases, fear of flying isn't innate, it's learned. There is a practical, physical approach to preventing the symptoms of panic, which include jumpiness, sweating, and difficulty breathing.

Don't Panic:

1.Avoid sugar and caffeine-soda, junk food, coffee-for five days before the flight.

2.Arrive at the airport early to avoid rushing, which can make your body produce extra adrenaline.

3.Don't have any alcohol before or during the flight.

You Panicked!

1.Drink orange juice to replace complex blood sugars that are burned off by stress.

2.Prop up the small of your back with a pillow, spread your legs to relax your abdomen, and breathe from your diaphragm. Don't inhale too deeply, or you'll speed up your heart rate.

3.If you start hyperventilating, either breathe into a paper bag or inhale the bubbles coming off a can of warm soda. The carbon dioxide will calm you.

4.Think of a calming scene, such as a beach or forest.

5.Try progressive relaxation, tightening and relaxing first your feet, then your calves, thighs, buttocks, abdomen, on up to your scalp.

Relaxation Exercises

Exercise: 1. Slow rhythmic breathing for relaxation

1.Breath in slowly and deeply.

2.As you breathe out slowly, feel yourself beginning to relax; feel the tension leaving your body.

3.Now breathe in and out slowly and regularly, at whatever rate is comfortable for you. You may wish to try abdominal breathing.

4.To help you focus on your breathing technique:

a.breathe in as you say silently to yourself,

b.breathe out as you say silently to yourself, 'out, two, three.

or Each time you breathe out, say silently to yourself a word such as 'peace' or 'relax.'

5.Do steps 1 through 4 only once or repeat steps 3 and 4 for up to 20 minutes.

6.End with a slow deep breath. As you breathe out say to yourself, 'I feel alert and relaxed.'

Exercise 2. Simple touch, massage, or warmth for relaxation

Touch and massage are age-old methods of helping others relax. Some examples are

1.Brief touch or massage, e.g., handholding or briefly touching or rubbing a person's shoulder.

2.Warm foot soak in a basin of warm water, or wrap the feet in a warm, wet towel.

3 .Massage (3 to 10 minutes) may consist of whole body or be restricted to back, feet, or hands. If the patient is modest or cannot move or turn easily in bed, consider massage of the hands or feet. Use a warm lubricant, e.g., a small bowl of hand lotion may be warmed in the microwave oven, or a bottle of lotion may be warmed by placing it in a sink of hot water for about 10 minutes.

Massage for relaxation is usually done with smooth, long, slow strokes. (Rapid strokes, circular movements, and squeezing of tissues tend to stimulate circulation) However, try several degrees of pressure along with different types of massage, e.g., kneading, stroking, and circling. Determine which is preferred.

A back rub that effectively produces relaxation may consist of no more than 3 minutes of slow, rhythmic stroking (about 60 strokes per minute) from the crown of the head to the lower back. Continuous hand contact is maintained by starting one hand down the back as the other hand stops at the lower back and is raised. Set aside a regular time for the massage. This gives the patient something to look forward to and depend on.

Exercise 3. Peaceful past experiences

Something may have happened to you a while ago that brought you peace and comfort. You may be able to draw on that past experience to bring you peace or comfort now. Think about these questions:

1.Can you remember any situation, even when you were a child, when you felt calm, peaceful, secure, hopeful, or comfortable?

2.Have you ever day dreamed about something peaceful? What were you thinking of?

3.Do you get a dreamy feeling when you listen to music? Do you have any favorite music?

4.Do you have any favorite poetry that you find uplifting or reassuring?

5.Have you ever been religiously active? Do you have favorite readings, hymns, or prayers? Even if you haven't heard or thought of them for many years, childhood religious experiences may still be very soothing.

Additional Points:

Very likely some of the things you think of in answer to these questions can be recorded for you, such as your favorite music or a prayer. Then, you can listen to the tape whenever you wish, or, if your memory is strong, you may simply close your eyes and recall the events or words.

b.breathe out as you say silently to yourself, 'out, two, three or each time you breathe out, say silently to yourself a word such as 'peace' or 'relax.'

5.Do steps 1 through 4 only once or repeat steps 3 and 4 for up to 20 minutes.

6.End with a slow deep breath. As you breathe out say to yourself, 'I feel alert and relaxed.'

- Updated: 2007-4-5 8:09:00

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