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Nervous fliers should *always* pack this in a carry-on (hint: it’s not medication)


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Photo: Stocksy/Sean Locke

Even for the most seasoned fliers, airplane rides generally don’t make for the most relaxing or enjoyable experience. The seating is cramped—often leading to sore muscles, unless you packed a tennis ball, that is—and the odds are strong that you’ll get stuck in the middle seat next to a talkative or sick passenger. Another unfortunate yet nearly unavoidable aspect of your otherwise-restorative trip to Bali? Turbulence, AKA a leading cause of making  even the most confident jet-setters feel nervous. But, there’s an easy hack for self-soothing when those invisible bumps in the air take you on an anxiety-peaking ride, and all you need is a pen and paper.

When the turbulence hits and your stress and anxiety begin to take off, pull out the pen and paper, and practice writing your name over and over again—with your nondominant hand to distract yourself.

When the turbulence hits and your stress and anxiety begin to take off, pull out the pen and paper, and practice writing your name over and over again—with your nondominant hand. Captain Ron Nielson, who’s been a pilot for 40 years, said on the Today Show that writing with your nondominant hand forces your brain to focus on a simple but attention-demanding task that can distract you from the sense of panic brought on by the shakiness of the plane.

If that doesn’t work, or if you’re not as subdued as you’d like to be, you can also try breathing through a drinking straw, which should prevent you from hyperventilating. And, of course, make sure you’ve packed your piece of mind before boarding the plane.

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