Congratulations – welcome to a life of travel and excitement. When you interviewed for your cabin crew job you had to demonstrate great customer service skills and the ability to work well in a team. One of the other factors you were recruited for was your health. In your new job, this is an important asset. Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to make sure you stay healthy to enjoy all that your new career has to offer.
Creating good habits around your flying lifestyle will help you settle in well from the beginning. The best way to go about creating habits is to swap out old habits for new ones or attach a new habit to something you already do. Think of these new health habits as additions to the safety drills you learn in training school, and keep them simple to start with.
Be a sipper not a guzzler
Staying hydrated is important for your functional health and for your ability to perform in your role. You will be working at altitude where the air is dry compared to the ground, so make a conscious habit to drink plenty of water on the plane, whenever you are away. The trick is to be a sipper, not a guzzler. Overloading your bladder and taking multiple trips to the restroom is something you want to avoid. Packing your own water bottle with you at all times can be very useful. Some crew get bored drinking so much water and choose to make it interesting by adding flavour with a non-sugar based or natural no-calorie sweetener. Minimising salty foods and excessive tea and coffee will also help. Did you know constipation is one of the most common complaints of flying? Staying hydrated also helps you avoid constipation.
Become a napper
Prioritise sleep. When you’re travelling the globe and enjoying yourself, it is easy to get carried away and skimp on good rest and recuperation. Savvy crew do better by making sleep sacred. In your role, awareness and vigilance are vital for safety. You can only be fully attentive if you are well rested. Changing time zones and being on the go can take getting used to – the excitement can leave you spent. You will in effect become a shift worker, and should look after your sleep like one. Add naps into your routines and practice good sleep hygiene. This means sleeping in total darkness without any light disturbance (use eye masks if you have to), making sure the room temperature is right for you, and that disturbances are minimised. The most important thing to remember is your lifestyle will regularly expose you to disrupted sleep, so it is your job to always look for opportunities to redress the balance. Becoming skilled at napping whenever there is opportunity helps.
Exercise is not optional
Exercise, exercise, exercise. Become one of the beautiful people – leave vitality in your wake! Travel is hard on your body’s physiology and you need to be prepared by building resilience. Staying fit on the road and at home is a good way to combat the stress of travel and adapt better to the time zone changes. If possible, making sure you have a healthy dose of aerobic exercise daily is the way to go. As a habit, it will give your body an oxygen advantage when you step on the plane, because oxygen at altitude is thinner in the pressurised cabin. You will be better altitude adapted than non-exercisers.
Stay emotionally healthy
Mental health challenges are an issue that continues to crop up in the workplace today, and your new job as cabin crew does not exempt you from taking positive action to make sure you stay emotionally healthy. Time away from loved ones or stressful situations you have no control over because you are away can take their toll. Proactively building good relationships to support you and the people you care about is important. Make sure you check-in with family, friends and confidants regularly. This way you will always have a sounding board when you need it. Famously, galley chats with fellow crew in the middle of the night can be quite therapeutic. As the saying goes a problem shared is a problem halved.
Become a global citizen
Taking a healthy interest in world affairs is a good habit to cultivate because having an awareness of where you are travelling to helps you and others stay safe by being informed. Some airlines have teams of people doing this on behalf of all the crew, who then receive an update briefing of what they must know. If you don’t have that provided to you, paying attention to a good news source or the Foreign Office travel brief may be helpful.
To make this advice work seamlessly, put these tips in a system and make it an enjoyable practice. For instance, making it a habit to see a city by bike wherever possible can double-up as exercise as well as a sight-seeing tour, getting into the habit of having a nap before you report for duty can give you that extra energy boost to help see you through a long duty day.
Your health is worthy of investment to make sure you get the most enjoyment out of the job, invest in it over time and it will support you in having some of the best times of your flying lifestyle, enjoy.
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Christopher Babayode is a former flight attendant of 20 years with British Airways, a specialist in Travel Wellness and healthy jet lag solutions for those who travel often. He is the author of Farewell Jet Lag, Cures from a Flight Attendant (on Amazon UK & US). Chris has been featured in the Sunday Telegraph and is a most -read author on Quora the questions and answers platform.
Christopher will also be guest speaking at our event later on this year, at the Aviation Job Expo!