Defense contractor support is highly demanding for flight support, base ops, and ground crew, as handling materials, staying on schedule, and meeting rigorous requirements place enormous physical and mental stressors on everyone. Outstanding teamwork, communications skills, problem solving, and project/program management leave no room for fatigue-produced errors. Work conditions and thermal stressors can accelerate physically degenerative conditions, so practicing supportive habits can add to any lifesaving skills you already have on board.
Some of the most common health problems are the effects of overuse and repetitive strain injuries, inflammation (fast/convenience diets can create), and deadline-driven stress. Health improvements lead to sharper brain function, fewer injuries, and quicker recovery/recuperation on off–days.
Fundamentals to combating stress and staying at the top of your game:
- Stay hydrated — supports better attention and mental clarity. Also reduces inflammation and helps muscle, tendon, joint repair.
- Keep blood glucose levels as flat as possible by eating/snacking every three to four hours with healthy food choices — remember, 1/3 complex carbs, 1/3 protein, 1/3 good fats.
- Maintain healthy weight by eating regularly — see above, and doing restorative body movements daily — stretch, Yoga, swim. Legs up the wall while laying on a floor or soft surface will relieve circulation to your legs and feet and give your brain a much–needed break.
- 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 they appreciate good care.
- Reduce noise and interruptions by wearing good earphones or a phone/intercom headset.
- Lessen eye strain/fatigue by using high-quality sunglasses outside and yellow-tinted lenses to reduce monitor fatigue with computer use.
Ergonomics and postural issues for computer/desk time:
- Minimize 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.
- Sit fully on the chair seat and avoid perching on the front edge of your cushion to prevent circulation problems in the thighs and lower legs.
- Keep feet flat on the floor and avoid crossing ankles or knees. To maintain pelvic balance — use a small foam roller or tennis balls under feet as reminders or a step if feet don’t fully touch the floor.
- Ensure that your thighs and forearms are parallel to the floor when seated at the keyboard — minimizes stress on hips, knees, elbows, and wrists.
- Position monitors for optimal visual ease and minimal head rotation, flexion, or extension — reduces both mental and neck muscle fatigue which can lead to eye strain and headaches.
When not working, make the most of your off time by ensuring good sleep quality in dark, quiet environments, daily exercise or gentle movement, lots of filtered water, and healthy meal regularity.
It is possible to feel good and prevent chronic health conditions from stress and degeneration by committing to daily choices and steps that will have you feeling brighter and clearer almost immediately. Regular self–care provides cumulative foundational health, much like having a sound bank account with lots of great deposits. Commit to better health now and invest in yourself today.