Despite the fact that I have dutifully studied all of the reasons why planes are the safest form of travel, I am still an anxious flyer.
I have been the armrest-gripper, the person who gasps aloud during turbulence, the person who says things like “OH NO” and “I HATE PLANES” during turbulence, and the person who apologises to their seat partners after the turbulence is over.
After one terrible flight where my seat partner spent part of it trying to calm me down, I decided I needed to get a better handle on my plane emotions — or, at least, the public display thereof.
For a while I used mental tools like counting (to focus my mind) and breathing mantras (to focus my breath). Then I got a Fitbit Charge 3 smartwatch that came with a built-in app called “Relax.”
This app, like many breathing and meditation apps, gives you an animated graphic to watch while you steady your breath. It also provides gentle vibrations to remind you when to inhale and exhale — or, more specifically, to help you slow down your inhalations and exhalations.
This, in turn, can lower both your heart rate and your anxiety. But if you’re like me, you might end up finishing the five-minute relaxation exercise and immediately starting it over again. (Still better than gripping the armrests and annoying your seat mates.)
Which means the real life hack is to make sure you pack all of the necessary chargers — because the last time I was on an exceptionally bumpy flight, I ran the Relax app for nearly an hour straight and used up my smartwatch battery.