Working in the aviation industry is more than just a job, it’s a lifestyle choice, one that is beloved by millions around the world.
But today, for so many of us, we face the very real threat of having that taken away from us, loosing our jobs, our life-long careers, our dream employment.
Behind airline crews perfectly pressed uniform and pearly white smile, many struggle with mental health issues and sadly it’s a growing problems.
Studies have shown that every week, one in six adults in the UK alone experience symptoms of mental health problems such as anxiety or depression. Yet it is a subject that is often overlooked. Indeed the International Civil Aviation Organisation, claims stigma and discrimination surrounding depression and mental ill health in aviation still exists.
But it’s not a subject that should be shied away from. It is something that should be talked about openly, a subject that should have no stigma attached to it.
Here at Confessions of a Trolley Dolly we want to offer some support to any of our aviation family who may be struggling and so, with the help of a number of our cabin crew colleagues, we have put together some of our top tips to dealing with every day mental health issues:
- Try not to focus on the things you cannot change. Easier said than done I know, especially when it feels like your whole world is falling apart. Try instead to focus that energy in to making yourself feel better.
“Accept the things you cannot change, have courage to change the things you can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
- Do what feels right for you! Listen to what your mind and body are telling you. If you want to rest then rest. Don’t feel guilty about it. One of the bodies main reactions to stress is to feel tired. So rest. You need to be protecting your physical health as much as your mental health.
- Limit your time watching or reading the news. We all know it was full of doom and gloom before but coronavirus has made it even worse! Obsessively scrolling through news stories that are so often full off misinformation and scaremongering will do you no good. Of course it’s still important to stay informed on the current situation. But it’s also about finding the right balance.
- Rumour and speculation can REALLY fuel anxiety and one of the worst places for rumour and speculation is social media. While we all love scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter looking at other peoples “perfect” lives, it can have a real detrimental effect on our mental health. So limit your time on social media (apart from Confessions of a Trolley Dolly and some of the other fabulous aviation social media pages of course). If you’re feeling worked up, step away from the phone or tablet.
- Stay connected. Ok so we’re all a little bit over the Zoom chats, meetings and parties I get that, but it’s our friends and our families who can really help us through these difficult times. A phone call or text to a loved one can really improve one another’s day.
- Exercise. It’s proven that even light-moderate exercise can benefit those struggling with their mental health, so don’t worry we’re not saying you have to go out and run a marathon here. Getting outside and going for a walk, even just a short one can really help clear your head and elevate your mood. Many people I know are struggling with gyms and leisure centres remaining closed, but why not take yourself outside and enjoy a bit of nature. Indeed nature has also been proven to assist those struggling with mental health issues (it is the best medicine for me when I’m feeling low). So take yourself to the park or even your own garden, stop and listen to the birds sing.
- Mindfulness is today one of the main treatments for mental health issues such as depression or anxiety and despite what some people may think it really works. Mindfulness is an integrative, mind-body-based approach that can help people manage their thoughts and feelings. The aim is to pay attention to the present moment and use techniques that draw on mediation, breathing and yoga. There are some amazing mindfulness apps out there such as Calm or Headspace.
- Eating well. There’s no denying that lockdown life and the uncertainty of well, just about everything at the moment, has caused many of us to turn to comfort eating and pile on a few extra pounds. But eating well is so important both for your physical as well as your mental health. Evidence has found that eating properly can help us to maintain a balanced mood and feelings of well being.
- Distract yourself. Another thing that is easier said than done I know, especially when it feels like all we have been doing lately is distracting ourselves with gardening, cleaning, baking banana bread etc etc. Maybe you could volunteer at the amazing Project Wingman? You don’t even have to be part of the First Class Lounge crew, you could always offer your baking services and create some fabulous cakes for the NHS staff. Maybe try some of the brilliant and free NHS Mental Wellbeing Guides.
- There’s no rush to any of this so don’t try and do everything at once. Take small steps, set small targets that you can easily achieve and change one thing at a time, then build on it from there.
Finally just remember that you are no alone. So many people are struggling right now, but that does not mean that you should suffer in silence.
Do not see mental health issues as weakness or a poor reflection on yourself. There is so much to take in at the moment and now more than ever it really is ok not to be ok!
Here are some useful numbers and websites to use if you need some advice or a friendly ear:
Samaritans 116 123
Anxiety UK 03444 775 774
Mind – ‘for better mental health’
© confessionsofatrolleydolly.com by Dan Air.