If you’re one of the many people who gets anxiety every time you step on a plane, we have two things to tell you. 1 - You are not alone, and 2 - There’s apparently a super simple trick to get over it! Here’s how to hack your body and fix your fear of flying…
All you’ll need to squash your heart-pounding, palm-sweating terror as the plane takes off is your hand, and your mouth. And er, then you’re going to pop your thumb in your mouth and blow on it. Now before you run away, hear us out! There’s a simple reason this little trick helps calm you down while in the grips of anxiety and it’s thanks to your vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve can be found in your thumb, and this beauty controls part of your lungs, heart and digestive system and it’s your body’s longest automatic nervous system nerve (say that ten times fast). And what’s happening when you start getting panicky on a plane? Your heart speeds up, your breath gets shallow and you can’t think straight.
By blowing on your thumb with your mouth closed you stimulate the vagus nerve enough for it to send a message to your brain to cool your jets. It’ll make your heart rate slower and your breathing more even, which are both cues that tell your brain that you’re ‘calm’. The Mayo Clinic have even used vagus nerve stimulation to help treat some forms of epilepsy.
So next time you’re on a plane and you feel your armpits getting prickly and the anxiety creeping up, get cracking on that vagus nerve! Sure you’ll look like you’re sucking your thumb but it’s a small price to pay for peaceful flying.