Have you ever noticed your emotional state on a plane? I'm not talking about those of you with an intense fear of flying, but the rest of us who realize if we want to go someplace faraway and experience life, you probably have to get on a plane. If you fall into that latter group, do you find that your emotions are more extreme when you fly?
A study commissioned by Virgin Atlantic found that 55 percent of participants have heightened feelings when they're in flight. The same movies that we would watch in a theatre are seen in a completely different light when we watch them on a plane.
According to Dr. Jacobus Empson, "We are likely to find something amusing completely hilarious and something unacceptable can make us feel angry," while traveling. He also explained that our moods can change at a drop of a hat while flying high in the sky, so, you know, watch out, you emotional fool!
The reason for this could be directly related to travel stress, like flight delays, waiting, and the flight attendants running out of vodka. What do you mean I’ll have to have gin instead?! Severe sleep deprivation, especially on long flights, can also play a big role in our emotions. Put all of that on one person, and they’re going to be a hot mess who might even cry while watching something as funny as Arrested Development.
But while all this is going on, it's men who really feel experience this effect. The study found that 41 percent of men "admitted to hiding under blankets to camouflage their tears while watching in-flight films such as Toy Story 3 and Eat Pray Love." I’ve never seen Toy Story 3, but the first one was great! I have, however, seen Eat Pray Love, and I'm just not sure how anyone could cry while watching that movie, even if they’re on a plane.
It seems that when we fly, even if we don't have a fear of it, the combo of the biology involved in travel stress and the psychological effects of being powerless, because face it, it's not like you know how to fly a plane, just makes us all a bit batty. Feeling like we don’t have control over something definitely does a number on our psyche.
Cognitive behavioral therapist, Elaine Iljon Foreman, also suggests, "You're away from the safety of familiar places, isolated from all the people you know and travelling in unstructured time. This can make us think and behave differently." Even if you travel all the time, planes still don’t provide the feeling of safety and comfort as being at home, on your couch, or cuddled in your bed. You know, your ultimate happy places.
One more point Foreman made is that in closing ourselves off into our headphones, we're lowing our inhibitions and escaping from reality even more. In doing so, we’re even further contributing to our heightened emotions, so our ability to see anything, movies especially, for what they are is just straight-up difficult.
Takeaway? You are not yourself when you fly. You are a basket case, you think mediocre movies are phenomenal, you're more likely to cry at the drop of a hat, and if you're a dude you're going to hide under a blanket and sob uncontrollably over When Harry Met Sally. Basically, don't make any major decisions when you’re flying, because considering your emotional state when you've reached cruising altitude, you’re better off just waiting until you're back on solid ground again.
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