Tunes for the nervous flyer

Nervous flyer? Well we’ve got just the playlist for you!

Ahead of the busy summer holiday season, we asked Anxiety psychologist Dr Becky Spelman from the Private Therapy Clinic in London to compile a playlist with some tunes that help to calm the nerves of anxious flyers.

The Science Behind the Music

Dr Spelman’s research finds that breathing in time to music with a low bpm at a controlled and reduced pace is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure which in turn reduces anxiety. Another established method is to listen to tracks which stimulate both sides of the brain, while using headphones and with eyes your closed. Music which is harmonious and emotive is generally regarded as the best at achieving this type of stimulation which induces Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR). This tried and tested method was originally developed for treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is incredibly powerful at calming and relaxing the mind and body.

The playlist, compiled by Dr Spelman, features an interesting mix of songs across various genres including classical and alternative rock, all of which can be used help to reduce the anxiety associated with a fear of flying when listened to before and during a flight. Someone Like You by Adele is very close to the optimum bpm of around 60 – the perfect pace for slowing down breathing associated with fear and anxiety. It is also a soulful and harmonious song, which helps to stimulate both sides of the brain, making it the ultimate song for calming anxious nerves. Orinoco Flow (Sail Away) by Enya also works using a low bpm and Piano on The Beach by Liborio Conti utilises this method alongside the ability to stimulate both sides of the brain.

Dr Spelman comments: “Travel anxiety is caused by irrational thoughts where the threat is exaggerated and inappropriate. Music that stimulates both the logical left and emotional right sides of the brain is said to stimulate the limbic system, which processes negative memories and emotions, which in turn helps people think in a more balanced, rational way supressing anxiety. Piano on The Beach by Liborio Conti works using this method of music therapy but must be listened to with headphones to be effective.” The study – based on Dr Spelman’s extensive work with nervous travellers – shows that music has the ability to strongly affect emotional states in a number of ways.

Fascinating stuff. To those of you plane hopping this summer, safe travels — we trust this playlist helps to put to at ease.