Keeping aircraft systems, components and equipment in top working order requires mental and physical sharpness and stamina. Since maintainers, mechanics and other workers are already physically active, perhaps some information about how to increase your mental stamina, recover on days off, and generally avoid injuries would be helpful.
Improving your physical function will lead to improved brain efficiency from enhanced biochemistry, circulation and digestion. This makes a great case for getting good at the basics.
Hydration, ideal food choices, sleep/rest and thermal stressor recovery are critical components to staying mentally and physically fit. I like to describe the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) as a simplistic, yet elegant two-way street — what goes in affects what comes out.
Some “A+” information for your central nervous system:
- Consistent hydration — supports attention and mental clarity. Also helps reduce cravings. Strive to drink half your body weight in oz’s of filtered water every day.
- Keep blood glucose levels as flat as possible by eating/snacking every 3-4 hours with healthy food choices — strive for 1/3 complex carbs, 1/3 protein, 1/3 good fats. Promotes mental agility and balances emotions.
- Sleep 7-8 hours each night. Supports better biochemistry through healthier hormone function, memory, information retention, and improved mood.
- Get at least 10-15 minutes of exercise a day, other than your job duties. Even laying down and doing spinal twist or legs up the wall (both — restorative Yoga) can clear your mind and give your brain a much-needed boost.
- Lessen eye strain/fatigue by using proper glasses to reduce fatigue and UV exposure.
- Lower sound, noise and interruptions by wearing good ear protection or headset.
Ergonomics and physical upgrades (more “A+” info):
- Have at least two pairs of shoes/boots and alternate days wearing them. Replace often, as your feet support your legs, pelvis and spine and appreciate good care.
- Avoid neck flexion (looking down) for extended periods of time — flattens the curve of your neck which can lead to poor neurological function from postural alterations.
- When sitting, rest fully on seat cushion and avoid perching on the front edge of your seat — lessens circulation problems in your thighs and lower legs.
- Train yourself to be ambidextrous when possible — use non-dominant hand/arm, bend on non-dominant leg — balances brain function and reduces overuse on dominant-sided joints.
- When crouched or cramped in uncomfortable positions, remind yourself to breathe deeply to oxygenate brain and muscles. This skill also trains you to calm yourself when stressed.
- Maintain healthy blood glucose levels by eating regularly. Pack your own meals and healthy snacks. Choose protein bars with ≤12 g sugar.
- Weight-lifting and cardio exercise for strength training to increase endurance and resiliency.
- Gentle activities like stretching, or restorative Yoga (i.e.: legs up the wall) counterbalance walking and standing. It’s important to regularly stretch legs and shoulders to stay flexible.
Upping your self-care will have immediate positive effects — you’ll feel better and sharper. You’ll also avoid a lot of aches and pains as you continue to age. All of us over the age of fifty understand how much longer it takes to recover from injury or illness and reverse wayward habits or indulgences. You can take simple steps today and quickly enjoy healthy dividends from your investments.