This time last year we were all enjoying tremendous growth in commercial aviation and the great quality of life that goes with it. Now many of us find ourselves being downgraded, displaced, facing difficult commutes, or worse yet, on the chopping block. The uncertainty is unprecedented and the stress that comes with all of this can feel overwhelming as we watch our daily routines and lifestyles unravel.
States across the country have had varied approaches to COVID-19 which makes it difficult to plan our lives at work. Some areas with higher case numbers still remain on lockdown with strict social distancing guidelines, while other states are giving society the green light to get back to normal. So, on a typical 4-day, you may find yourself quarantined one day and dining at a restaurant after a gym workout the next. It doesn’t help that this virus affects various populations differently and guidance has been politicized, further driving confusion for necessary precautions.
While these variances create a number of roadblocks to staying healthy at work, we see some opportunity for personal growth in times like this! Change is difficult. Change increases our mental workload and can be overwhelming when trying to plan for food, exercise and travel while taking into account the risk of COVID infection. Now let’s take advantage of this to build new habits that will work anywhere, anytime and reduce our exposure.
FOOD The number one complaint I hear from crews is food availability, any food, let alone healthy food. Reliable access to healthy food during travel was already difficult and COVID has amplified this issue. Pack. Your. Food. Some of it. Any of it. Maybe just breakfast by bringing oatmeal – maybe just snacks like fruit and nuts – or maybe fresh food for the first 2 days. Or pack for the full 4-day! Our app, Fit Flyer, has over 50 healthy recipes, with integrated shopping lists to make this process of planning and packing your food pain-free – and the app is free! Additionally, by pre-planning our meals for work or at home, we reduce the amount of time spent at stores and in public, reducing exposure.
EXERCISE What are the latest recommendations? Are gyms safe? Do I need to wear a mask when outside on a run? The science shows there is an aerosol component to this virus and levels of risk depend on a few variables. Nothing will eliminate exposure, but we can still get some exercise while keeping risk to a minimum. When outdoors and maintaining social distance, particles are generally not concentrated enough to pose any major threat unless someone coughs on you. However, heavy breathing increases particles expelled into the air and doing so indoors will increase concentration levels and elevate your risk. Especially since most indoor facilities do not have sufficient HVAC systems to exchange the air at rates that will mitigate concentrated airborne levels and reduce exposure. When we exercise and sweat, we end up wiping our face more than we should and this can be problematic after touching many common points in a gym setting. The safe bet is to keep your activities outside or in your hotel room as much as possible until we know more about this virus and how it works.
Instead, use this time to focus on activities that are cardio-based like running or cycling outdoors. This could be a great opportunity to try new outdoor sports like mountain biking, surfing, or even golf or tennis. Body weight exercises are another great, overlooked option. They can be done anywhere and act as a great starting point for anyone wanting to get off the couch to start a new regimen. There are many high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and cross-fit routines that are body-weight focused and will challenge even the most elite athletes. My favorite is the “Murph” workout which can be scaled for any fitness level.
STRESS Lastly, how do we handle the stress of uncertainty and get our heads straight? Meditation is a great tool to force yourself to find some quiet, uninterrupted space and breathe, relax, and refocus your thoughts. There are many apps that can help facilitate learning how to meditate. Our favorite is “Waking Up with Sam Harris.” A great segue into meditation is yoga. Yoga helps prep the body and mind for meditation. A side benefit of yoga is improving flexibility and restoring physical balance especially necessary after sitting all day. All this can be done from the comfort and safety of a hotel room.
We are in unprecedented times in our industry and in our society. The best things we can do is support each other, be compassionate and pull through this TOGETHER.