The overall rates of stress have increased across virtually every industry and the pilot community is not immune. Even during normal times, pilots have an incredibly stressful job. They have to get everyone on the plane safely to their destination while also coping with irregular, around-the-clock schedules, jet lag, and large amounts of time away from home and loved ones.
What can pilots do to stay healthy and unstressed? It all begins with discipline. Pilots are trained to be disciplined in the cockpit to do what it takes to make flights safe. Pilots should adapt this same discipline to manage their stress levels.
You may have heard some of these things before, but now more than ever, it’s important to put them into practice.
By nature, piloting is stressful so it’s important to make other things less so. Do this by avoiding things like opening emails or phone messages that may contain upsetting news that will affect your sleep or worry you before a flight.
Exercise is one of the absolute best ways to manage stress. Physical activity improves your body’s ability to use oxygen and also improves blood flow, which has a direct effect on your brain. Exercise also increases your brain’s production of endorphins that are “feel-good” neurotransmitters responsible for the sense of well being and euphoria that many people experience after exercise.
The soothing power of music affects our emotions and can be an extremely effective stress management tool. In addition to distracting you from your worries, it can slow your pulse and heart rate, lower your blood pressure and decrease the levels of stress hormones.
Studies show that being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. And it contributes to your physical wellbeing by reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
When under a lot of stress, take vitamin C supplements. Studies show that vitamin C reduces the levels of stress hormones in the blood. And, people who have high levels of vitamin C bounce back from stressful situations faster than those who don’t take it.
Many pilots put in long hours and deal with stress, fatigue, and don’t enjoy valuable nutrition on a regular bask. They are exposed to irregular meal schedules and airport junk food. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can help reduce stress by making the brain to increase serotonin production and stabilize blood pressure. So keep nutritious food at home and be sure to prepare ahead so you eat right all week.
Singing helps relax muscle tension and decreases the levels of the stress hormones in your bloodstream. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven to lower stress, relieve anxiety, and elevate endorphins making you feel happy. Don’t worry if you can’t sing like a pro. You don’t have an amazing voice to feel the positive effects of singing!
So be disciplined and follow these tips and relax!
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