I took my very first helicopter flight this past weekend after swearing I'd never set foot in a helicopter. My husband's best friend is a heli pilot and has tried to convince me many times that I would enjoy a flight. Every time, I tell him No Way.
But we went to visit him for his 40th birthday and something came over me. I felt like I should live in the moment and seize the opportunity to experience a flight.
As soon as we lost contact with the ground, I felt myself start to tense.
My adrenaline started to kick in as we hovered higher and higher over the pavement below. We were in flight. I was in fight or flight.
But all I wanted to do was relax and enjoy the ride.
So I made a concerted effort to get out of my head and into my feet.
The fastest way to pull yourself out of a stress response is to focus on relaxing your body.
I steadied my breathing and let my shoulders drop. I released my abs—which I had unwittingly clenched super tight. I let my legs sink into my seat. I felt my toes tap the glass in front of me. I tried to let every muscle fall slack.
As I relaxed my body, my mind began to follow.
I continued to breathe and focus on calming my posture.
I soaked in the sights of the green vineyards and a winding river and sprawling properties below us. When the wind would kick up and cause the helicopter to shudder, I went right back to letting my muscles grow heavy and limp.
It was a great flight.
I won't say I was as laid back as I would have been in a bubble bath, but I felt pretty darn good and was able to totally enjoy the experience.
And the best part is—I can do this same trick any time stress creeps into my day. I can choose to fake it 'til I make it, relaxing my body until my mind follows and calm is restored.
Do you think you could give it a try next time you find yourself slipping into fight or flight?