Stress is a natural part of life. Everyday there are
responsibilities, obligations and pressures that change and challenge you. In
response to these daily strains your body automatically increases blood
pressure, heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and blood flow to muscles.
However, when this natural response is prolonged or triggered too often without
sufficient adjustments to counter its effects, it can threaten your health and
well-being. As a pilot, it is essential that you learn to cope with these
natural responses in order to avoid physical and/or emotional problems which can
jeopardize your FAA medical certification.
Did you know?...
- 75-90% of visits to physicians are stress related.
- Job stress is a major health factor costing businesses an estimated $150
- Stress related disorders are a major cause of rapidly increasing health
How Do I Know If I'm Suffering From Stress And Tension?
Each person handles stress differently. Some people actually seek out situations
which may appear stressful to others. A major life decision, such as changing
careers or buying a house, might be overwhelming for some people while others
may welcome the change. Some find sitting in traffic too much to take, while
others take it in stride. The key is determining your personal tolerance levels
for stressful situations.
Stress can cause physical, emotional, and behavioral disorders which can
compromise health, vitality, and peace-of-mind, all of which may affect personal
and professional relationships. Too much stress can cause relatively minor
illnesses like insomnia, backaches, or headaches as well as potentially
life-threatening diseases like high blood pressure and heart disease.
Can you identify negative reactions to stress and tension?
- Do minor problems and disappointments upset you excessively?
- Do the small pleasures of life fail to satisfy you?
- Are you unable to stop thinking of your worries?
- Do you feel inadequate or suffer from self-doubt?
- Are you constantly tired?
- Do you experience flashes of anger over situations which used to
not bother you?
- Have you noticed a change in sleeping or eating patterns?
- Do you suffer from chronic pain, headaches, or back aches?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, consider the following
Tips For Reducing Or Controlling Stress and Tension
As you read the following suggestions, remember that success will not come from
a halfhearted effort, nor will it come overnight. It will take determination,
persistence and time. Some suggestions may help immediately, but if your stress
is chronic it may require more attention and/or lifestyle changes. Determine
YOUR tolerance level for stress and try to live within these limits. Learn to
accept or change stressful and tense situations whenever possible.
- Be Realistic. If you feel overwhelmed by some activities (yours
and/or your familyís) learn to say NO! Eliminate an activity that is not
absolutely necessary or ask someone else to help. You may be taking on more
responsibility than you can or should handle. If you meet resistance, give
reasons why youíre making the changes. Be willing to listen to otherís
suggestions and be ready to compromise.
- Shed the "superman/woman" urge. No one is perfect, so
donít expect perfection from yourself or others. Ask yourself: What really
needs to be done? How much can I do? Is the deadline realistic? What
adjustments can I make? Donít hesitate to ask for help if you need it.
- Meditate. Just ten to twenty minutes of quiet reflection may bring
relief from chronic stress as well as increase your tolerance to it. Use the
time to listen to music, relax and try to think of pleasant things or
nothing at all.
- Visualize. Use your imagination and picture how you can manage a
stressful situation more successfully. Whether itís a business
presentation or moving to a new place, many people feel visual rehearsals
boost self-confidence and enable them to take a more positive approach to a
- Take one thing at a time. For people under tension or stress, an
ordinary work load can sometimes seem unbearable. The best way to cope with
this feeling of being overwhelmed is to take one task at a time. Pick one
urgent task and work on it. Once you accomplish that task, choose the next
one. The positive feeling of "checking off" work is very
satisfying. It will motivate you to keep going.
- Exercise. Regular exercise is a popular way to relieve stress.
Twenty to thirty minutes of physical activity benefits both the body and the
- Hobbies. Take a break from your worries by doing something you
enjoy. Whether itís gardening or painting, schedule time to indulge your
- Healthy life style. Good nutrition makes a difference. Limit intake
of caffeine and alcohol (alcohol actually disturbs, not helps, regular sleep
patterns), get adequate rest, exercise, and balance work and play.
- Share your feelings. A phone call to a friend lets you know that
you are not the only one having a bad day, dealing with a sick child, or
working in a busy office. Stay in touch with friends and family. Let them
provide love, support, and guidance. Donít try to cope alone.
- Give in occasionally. Be flexible! If you find youíre meeting
constant opposition in either your personal or professional life, rethink
your position or strategy. Arguing only intensifies stressful feelings. If
you know you are right, stand your ground, but do so calmly and rationally.
Make allowances for otherís opinions and be prepared to compromise. If you
are willing to give in, others may meet you halfway. Not only will you
reduce your stress, you may find better solutions to your problems.
- Go easy with criticism. You may expect too much of yourself and
others. Try not to feel frustrated, let down, disappointed, even
"trapped" when another person does not measure up. The "other
person" may be a wife, a husband, or child whom you are trying to
change to suit yourself. Remember, everyone is unique, and has his or her
own virtues, shortcomings, and right to develop as an individual.
Where To Get Help
Help may be as close as a friend or a spouse. But if you think that you or
someone you know may be under more stress than just dealing with a passing
difficulty, it may be helpful to talk with your doctor, spiritual advisor, or
local Mental Health Association. They may suggest you visit with a psychiatrist,
psychologist, social worker, or other qualified counselor.
For More Information:
Contact your local Mental
Health Association, community mental health center, or:
National Mental Health Association The American Stress Institute
1021 Prince Street 124 Park Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22314 Yonkers, NY 10703
Phone 800-969-6642 Phone 914-963-1200
Stigma Watch Line 800-969-NMHA
This publication is generously supported by a grant from the William H.
Donner Foundation and Eli Lilly and Company. Copyright 1997