Five Great Tips to Reduce Travel Stress if You’re an Anxious Flyer

By Helen Goldstein

I am one of those people who don’t believe that humans are supposed to fly. I am not at ease thousands of miles above the ground encased in a steel object. Short of taking a Xanax or belting down a martini or two at 10am there are some simple solutions to this feeling of being out of control – also known as ‘stress.”

Here are five simple ways to de-stress as you wait for a flight:

1. The first path to de-stress is to be aware of our breath. Find a quiet and private space. The bathroom stall has served me well when all else fails. Take five deep breaths focusing on the exhalation. Make the exhalation long and full. Notice how your body and mind relaxes a little more with each conscious breath.

2. Take five deep conscious breaths. Place your palm on your sternum (the long, flat bone in the centre of the chest) and pat it gently as if you were touching a child or pet. As you do this say to yourself a variation of the following in a gentle loving way “you are having a hard time dealing with this delay, (or overbooking or anything that is bothering you) because you have to be at an important meeting, you have every right to be feeling like this…the waiting will soon be over and it will be okay at the other end.” This acknowledges your right to be upset and also that there is nothing you can do so just relax.

3. Place one hand on your belly the other one on your chest and just relax. Take those five deep breaths. Imagine that you have a drinking straw in your navel and as you inhale expand the belly, watch the air move up the spine, into the lungs and then out through the nose. Just follow the breath for five to 10 breaths and then notice how you feel.

4. The forward bend helps deal with anxiety. Sit or stand with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. Relax your body and slowly bend forward and let your arms just dangle. Let your head float down and imagine that you are folding over. Don’t reach for the floor just keep breathing and watch how you fold a little more with each exhalation. Roll up slowly. Comb your hair. Get on the plane.

5. The backward bend releases shoulder and neck tension. Sitting or standing place your hands on your waist with your thumbs facing forward your hands supporting your back. Bring your shoulder blades together, lift your head up, mouth closed and teeth together and bend back as much as you can safely. Take two to three breaths and come back very slowly. You might need to comb your hair again.

Get on the plane.

Helen Goldstein is a yoga and meditation teacher and director of Peace-Core in Toronto specializing in corporate wellness. She was personally certified by Dr. Deepak Chopra MD to teach his wellness techniques. 

Other travel tips & advice you might find useful.