In this episode I talk to Captain Tom Bunn about how he has helped people to be less anxious when flying.
Captain Tom Bunn, a retired airline captain and licensed therapist, is founder of SOAR, Inc.He has helped over 7,000 people overcome difficulty with flying. His book, "SOAR: The Breakthrough Treatment for Fear of Flying" was chosen Amazon editors' 2014 favorite book.
Captain Bunn was part of the first fear of flying program, which was started at Pan Am in 1975 by Captain Truman Cummings. Though the Pan Am course was helpful for many, it did not help those subject to claustrophobia or to panic.
He founded SOAR in 1982 to offer more effective help, and develop a therapy that has made it possible for everyone to fly.
In this particular episode you will learn:
- How linking flying to memories can be beneficial
- How oxytocin can be useful to quieten the amygdala
- What the vagus nerve does
- How you can think of a calm friend to keep us grounded
- When we make a decision we chill out because the amygdala stops sending stress hormones
- When we are in control we are OK
- This is why choosing to embrace Anxiety is so important because we are empowering ourselves
- How you can tap into a "flow state"
- How alcohol and medication can affect us when flying
Captain Tom's Top 10 Tips:
Tip Number One - The 5-4-3-2-1 Exercise
This is nothing more than a focusing exercise, something to intensely occupy your mind so disturbing thoughts can't take hold. Prove to yourself that you have the means to control anticipatory anxiety. Start by doing the 5-4-3-2-1 every fifteen minutes. Then every hour. Then, whenever you feel the need.
If you are not troubled by panic, this exercise can (though it is a lot of work) get you through a flight. If you suffer from panic, you will need one of the SOAR courses to establish control that works automatically.
Sit or recline comfortably.
Focus on some object in front of you.
Keep your focus on that throughout the exercise. (If you eyes drift off, just bring them back.) Do it out loud first. Then, try it silently. See if one works better for you than the other.
Say "I see" and name something in your peripheral vision.
Say "I see" and name something else in your peripheral vision.
Continue until you have made five statements. For example: I see the lamp, I see the table, I see a spot on the lamp shade, I see a book on the table, I see a picture on the table.What about the next cycle? If you always made five statements, you soon could do the exercise WITHOUT intense concentration, and your mind could drift back to "bad" thoughts. We keep concentration intense by making one change each cycle. Instead of doing five statements again, do four statements. Then, in the next cycle, do three statements. Then, in the next cycle, do two statements. Then, in the next cycle, do one statement. Then, in the next cycle, go back to five, etc. Stop when you are as relaxed as you want to be. If you want to be more relaxed - or to fall asleep - continue. If you lose count, that is a good sign because it means you are getting so relaxed that you are losing count.
Tip Number Two - Avoid Imagination And Manage Your Stress Level
During the flight, focus on what is really happening - NOT what you imagine. Why? What is real is not going to cause anxiety.
When you think something may be happening, ask yourself if you have any real proof of that.
Feelings are hard to ignore when they get big. Manage them by tracking your anxiety level on a scale or zero to ten.
Take along something to write on. Write down your feelings and thoughts. Dumping thoughts and feelings out onto paper helps prevent build-up.
Tip Number Three - First Time Anxiety
"First time anxiety" is to be expected. Anything for the first time leads to anxiety. We pilots would not be doing this job unless it was safe. And, insurance companies are no fools; they sell pilots insurance at the same rates as non-pilots.
Tip Number Four -