A Black Swan event, the outbreak of Covid19 is causing much stress, anxiety and fear amongst the pilot community. There is a lot of concern about getting sick or what might happen if the virus becomes so widespread that our infrastructures cannot handle it and how it is all going to play out in the coming weeks and months. These feelings of uncertainty can be so overwhelming that it triggers strong emotions in ourselves, our families, especially children. Coping with the stress will make us, the people we care about and the airline community stronger.
Common Signs of Distress
· Feelings of shock, numbness or disbelief.
· Change in energy or activity levels.
· Difficulty concentrating.
· Changes in appetite.
· Sleeping problems or nightmares.
· Feeling anxious, fearful or angry.
· Headache, body pain and skin rashes.
· Chronic health problems get worse.
· Increase use of alcohol, smoking or other drugs.
( Source: Centre for Disease Control Prevention 2019 )
Feeling overwhelmed with emotions of sadness, depression or anxiety? Do these stress reactions interfere with our daily activities? Then please consider contacting PAG's peer support team (stated below) or the following helplines for assistance:
PAG's Peer Support Hotline
Tel: 9225 5724 (9-CALL-PAG)
SOS- Samaritans of Singapore
Tel: 1800-221 4444(24Hrs)
National Family Service Centre (FSC Helpline)
Tel: 1800 838 0100
SAMH Counselling Services
Tel: 1800 283 7019
Things are alarming and grave, no doubt about it. But if we are going to get through this well, we need to keep our heads and wits about us - a quality inherent in pilots. Here are some suggestions that can help us deal with coronavirus anxiety.
· Never underestimate human resilience
Many of us fear how we will manage if the virus shows up while we are operating a flight, at the airport or home. We worry how we will cope with a quarantine, daycare closure or reduced paycheck. Human minds are good at predicting the worst. Know that we are more resilient than you might think. It can help reduce our anxiety levels. Research shows that we tend to underestimate how well we cope with and adjust to stressful situations.
· Practice tolerating uncertainty.
The solution in our daily lives is to face the dilemma gradually by reducing confirmation behaviours. Take small steps. Avoid excessive exposure to media information. As we strengthen our adaptability skills and mental courage, we can significantly reduce the number of times we refer to the internet and the media for updates of the outbreak.
· Strengthen self-care
During these anxiety-provoking times, it's important to remember the tried-and-true anxiety prevention and reduction strategies. Get adequate sleep, exercise regularly, practice mindfulness, spend time in nature and employ relaxation techniques when stressed. Prioritizing these behaviors during the coronavirus crisis can go a long way toward increasing our psychological well-being and strengthening our immune system.
· Tackle the anxiety paradox
As Carl Jung, a well-renowned psychologist, once said, " What we resist persists." Avoiding the experience of anxiety almost always backfires. Instead, we should acknowledge our feelings and sensations, accepting anxiety is a fundamental part of human experience. When we feel an anxiety attack surfacing write down the encounter or describe the feeling to yourself or others without judgement.
In truth, many of us will be feeling helpless right now. We are facing a microscopic virus we cannot see, touch, taste, feel or otherwise detect until we're already at its mercy. However, just because we feel helpless doesn't mean we need to sink into despair, apathy, or paralyzing levels of anxiety and panic. One of the best ways to counteract the feeling of helplessness is to be helpful to others. Taking care of our crew; our teams; colleagues and family can help us cope with stress. Assisting one another to deal with their stress will make our airline community stronger.
Pilot Advisory Group