Plane travel can be a daunting experience for some. The idea of flying through the sky seems unnatural to creatures bound to the land, but it’s actually one of the safest modes of transport travellers can take. Still, sometimes there’s no quashing human instinct with logic.
One of the symptoms of anxiety brought on by a fear of flying is an increased heart rate. Our heart pounds when we are scared in order to pump more blood into our muscles and brain to prepare us for a fight or flight response.
The vagus nerve is partly in control of the heart, lungs and digestive tract. It’s the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system in the human body, and it happens to connect to our thumbs.
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The next time you are experiencing an increased heart rate due to a fear of flying, try putting your thumb in your mouth and blowing on it. This act stimulates the vagus nerve, which will then slow down your heart rate.
According to the Mayo Clinic, vagus nerve stimulation is also used to treat epilepsy when other treatments haven’t worked, or to treat depression when traditional therapies haven’t worked.
If you’re an anxious flyer, the next time you hop on a plane and feel your heart rate increase, blow on your thumb – it could calm you down and reduce your fear of flying.