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Prepare for take-off

3

For those lucky enough to be considering a break in the sun, the holiday season is upon us.

Many people look forward to this as a time of relaxation and freedom, a break from the everyday routines of life, and a chance to "recharge life's batteries". But for people with paruresis (also called shy bladder syndrome), it can be a time of great stress and even fear.

For some, the fear begins from the moment the flight is booked. For instance, you may find yourself imagining potential problems, wondering "what if I can't pee?". You may deprive yourself of drinks in the days leading up to the flight to reduce the likelihood of needing the toilet on the plane.

For others, the anxiety begins in the airport. The anticipation of the flight, the stress of the airport environment, going through security. Remembering what items you can take through, what items have to go in a plastic bag, what items have to go in the baggage tray. People sometimes getting short tempered if they have to queue for a long time. It all adds to the stress of the situation.

If you are already anxious about whether you'll be able to use the toilets in the airport, the chances are that you may struggle. This would be a good time to try to use some relaxation techniques.

Most people in airport toilets focus on using the facilities and getting on with their day. There are usually lots of cubicles to cater for the large numbers of people who will be in and out. And lots of noise with the sounds of flushing toilets, running taps and people using hand driers. So try to leave yourself plenty of time and take as long as you need. No one will notice or care if you take a while.

For many people with paruresis the thought of having to use the toilet on a plane is very challenging. Some people on short haul flights don't even try, but how can you know whether you can use the plane toilets if you don't try? It's worth giving it a go, not least so that plane toilets become less anxiety-inducing.

Avoiding toilets on planes altogether won't help you to learn to cope with them. Give yourself the best chance by using the toilets at the back of the plane, so you don't feel as if anyone is watching you.

You can also wait until most people are occupied, snoozing or watching a film. This will reduce the likelihood of queues building up if you take a while. And if you do take a while to pee, try not to worry about it.

Remember, the toilet is yours for as long as you need it. Relax – you're on holiday!

For more information about using toilets while travelling visit https://www.ukpt.org.uk/living-with-paruresis/paruresis-and-flying

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Thursday, 30 May 2024

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