How to Manage Stress During Flight Training

How to Manage Stress During Flight Training

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Stress is a part of being human. In fact, it can’t be avoided. Stress isn’t all bad; when stress triggers a fight or flight response due to danger, your brain and muscles kick into high gear and help keep you safe. Stress is a natural reaction to danger, but today stress looks much different than it did to our distant ancestors who may have faced lions, snakes, and other wild animals on a daily basis. Today’s stressful situations often include our finances, our relationships, or examinations. The good news is stress can be managed even in flight training! Let’s learn more.  

Types of Stress

There are two types of stress and in some cases stress can be a good thing. Stress can improve performance up to a certain point before the body becomes overloaded. The first type of stress is acute. It is defined as the reaction to an event that results in a fight or flight response. It can happen when a car crosses into your lane on the highway or when another plane passes a little close in flight school. In each instance, acute stress can increase your reaction time and focus your senses so you can react quickly and avoid a crash.  

The other type of stress is chronic stress. Chronic stress is life stress – the kind that builds up over time because the stressor never goes away. Chronic stress is often the most harmful to your health. It can lead to burnout and for prospective pilots can affect overall flight safety. It is important to keep in mind that stress is not fatigue, nor is it anxiety. Stress is related to your reaction to stressors in your environment while fatigue arises from a lack of rest and anxiety is a result of worry without a stressor. Even so, fatigue can cause stress and anxiety and stress often presents with similar symptoms – anger, fatigue, digestive issues, irritability, as well as trouble sleeping and difficulty focusing. 

Identifying Stressors in Flight Training

Flight training opens the doors to a new world. It is exciting as well as life-altering and gives you membership in an elite club. Stress during flight training is normal as you will be required to step outside your comfort zone and prove your abilities. The first solo flight often brings an increase in stress as the day draws near. Plus, flight school is challenging which means everyone will face a variety of learning stages throughout the experience. 

Managing Stress During Flight Training

Everyone in flight training experiences stress at one time or another so let’s explore some ways you can handle stress when it comes your way.

  • Schedule Downtime – Downtime allows you to relax. If you’re busy, you’ll need to purposefully plan time to unwind. Of course, most people will skip down time if life gets too busy. Don’t! Stress causes headaches and muscle tension while downtime and relaxation allow your body and mind to recover and refresh. Even if you only have a few minutes, deep breathing, a brisk walk, or any activity you enjoy can help!
  • Eat Well – Healthy eating is crucial for your overall health and can help your body handle stress more effectively. Regardless of how busy your schedule is, resist the urge to grab fast food or a vending machine item, and develop healthy eating habits instead. 
  • Exercise – Exercise of any kind is a great stress reliever. Take a walk, go for a run, hit the gym, or practice yoga. Simply moving your body can help you manage stress more readily. 
  • Get Support – Supportive friends and family can help increase your ability to manage stress as can your fellow flight training students. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it or lend a listening ear to a fellow student. 

Are You Ready to Begin Your Flight Training Adventure? 

Call on the experts at Airlink Flight School and begin your flight training today!