By DebbieH 19 Feb 2021 6 min read

The busy pilot’s guide to being kind to yourself


We know that pilots face many challenges with their busy schedules. Dealing with jet lag, irregular hours and shifting routines are just some of the factors that can increase your levels of stress and fatigue.

It’s really important that you focus on your physical and mental wellbeing so that you are well equipped to meet these challenges. Here are some simple tips to help you be kinder to yourself every day.


Look After Your Body

Being a pilot can be very demanding on your body; high levels of concentration are required, you have to sit in a cockpit for long periods of time and you constantly need to adjust to changing time zones.

It can be difficult to fit regular exercise around your working schedule – but it can be done. You simply need to find what works for you, whether you’re at home, in the gym or even in a hotel room.

If you don’t have access to a gym, there are still exercises you can do such as going for a brisk walk or run, yoga, or doing a bodyweight workout. A quick YouTube search will provide thousands of online videos to help you get started.


Maintain a Healthy Diet

Maintaining a healthy diet can be tricky for pilots, but forward planning, and making the right choices about which foods you eat, will make a huge difference to how you feel.

If you eat well, you’ll find that your mood and energy levels improve. This is really important for long distance flying and maintaining concentration.


Look After Your Mind

It can be difficult to maintain your mental wellbeing if you’re feeling overworked, tired or stressed. Relaxation techniques or meditation might help you deal with this and ensure that you’re ready to face whatever challenges the working day holds.

Meditation can easily be practised just before bed or when you wake up in the mornings. It can take less than 15 minutes and it will help to add some routine to your day.

 If you’re a beginner to meditation, there are lots of apps available, such as Headspace and Calm, which can guide you through the process.

If you don’t fancy giving meditation a go but you still want to look after your mental wellbeing, why not try writing down your thoughts? A journal or diary will help you to organise and process your thoughts, giving you a better understanding of why you feel like you do.


Practise Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a way of thinking which encourages you to pay attention to the present moment.

By focusing on the here and now, you’re not worrying about things that haven’t happened yet and you’re not dwelling on things which have happened (and that you cannot change).

Even just spending a couple of minutes sitting in a quiet room, taking slow deep breaths and observing the sounds and sensations around you, it can help you break the cycle of dwelling on stressful or anxious thoughts.


Take A Moment To Look At Your Achievements

With a busy schedule, it can sometimes be difficult to get some perspective on what you’ve achieved. Whether these are professional or personal achievements, it’s important to take a step back and reflect on how far you’ve come. You’ll then be able to face the future and your goals with more positivity.


Prioritise Your Relationships

It can be difficult to work away from home for long periods of time, and this can take its toll on your relationships. In fact, the divorce rate amongst some pilot groups is as high as 75%.

Find a little time each day to focus on the relationships with your family and friends. When you are away, take the time to stay in contact; technology and smartphones have made it extremely easy to stay connected, wherever you may be in the world.

When you are home, make sure you make the most of that time; the little things can make a big difference.


Be Generous

Studies have shown that giving gifts is better than receiving them in terms of our own happiness. When you give something to someone, areas in your brain that are associated with social connection, trust and pleasure are activated. Scientists believe that endorphins are also released when you display altruistic behaviour.

If you feel that you need a boost, why not give someone an unexpected gift? This can also help to strengthen your relationships as they will know that you were thinking about them.


Have Fun

No matter how busy you are, you should still be able to find some time in your day to do something you enjoy. It could be something as simple as watching an episode of your favourite TV show or walking your dog.

When you are busy, these things can get pushed to the bottom of your priority list, but it’s important that you don’t compromise them.

A great way to de-stress is to find something that makes you laugh. After all, laughter really is the best medicine. Laughter has been proven to boost your immune system and help you deal with stress.


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