It’s been a while since I last wrote for my friends here at Cabin Crew Wings, but with good reason! At the time of my last piece, I had recently moved back from Dubai where I worked as Cabin Crew for Emirates Airline, and I was waiting to commence flying for an Australian airline based in my home city of Perth, Western Australia.
Since the recruitment at airlines tends to move at a rather glacial pace, I decided to bite the bullet and instead of sitting around at an “in between” day job that I loathed, I opted to get the ball rolling in an industry that I love! After another arduous interview process (think more role play, more eliminations and a tonne of hypothetical situations), I was waiting around yet again to hear the outcome from more than one Australian airline, both for roles as Cabin Crew.
Life seems to happen in swings and roundabouts, and whilst I was not successful for the role of Cabin Crew due to strict Australian height standards, I was offered a position as Ground Crew. Even though I was cross-trained on a variety of aircraft including the “Queen of the Sky” the Airbus A380-800 with Emirates, based on a reach height of over 210cm on tippy toes, I stand at only 160cm tall. The requirement for my particular airline now is 163cm. That 3cm may not seem like much, but in an emergency it may make all the difference, and safety really is top priority for all airlines! So I was offered a position as ground crew. The only tiny problem was that I was due to go to Europe on holidays the day the training started.
Now, I am all for making sacrifices for your dream job, and taking chances, but I had been looking forward to my family vacation for Europe for half a year, and it was my first one since being away from home for the best part of two years! There was no way I was saying “no” to that particular opportunity! Fate was on my side, and the day I returned home I had an email advising me that another training course was starting soon. I immediately said yes, resigned from my less than interesting job and away I went!
Fast forward one year, and I have recovered from major foot surgery (a double bunionectomy, which lead to DVT which means no flying for me unless it’s on holidays!), am working with an iconic Australian airline (some might say it is the Spirit of Australia!) and have also been assisting in the coveted Lounges at the airport; where Premium service, coffee and champagne are all on tap!* I love being able to work in an industry that I adore in the country that I call home! It was quite an adjustment coming back onto “shift work life” but I have relished every 2am alarm, every midnight finish and the lovely down time in between.
It has been quite a challenge over the past few years to fight my circadian rhythms, but I am getting there. Circadian rhythms are the natural times of the day that your body feels sleepy, awake, tired, alert, hungry etc. It also seems that the natural times when my body is sleepy is when my shifts tend to start, but c’est la vie! I am happy to have this lifestyle, so here are some tips for surviving shift work life, whether you are Cabin Crew or otherwise!
Fail to prepare? Then be prepared to fail! Preparation and organization are the two main factors that keep me motivated and sane whilst working around the clock at all hours of the night and day. I am almost used to it now, but preparation is like my meditation! Get your uniform/clothes out the night before! Lay out your panty hose, polish your shoes, pack your lunch, iron your clothes…every task that you complete before bed is an extra couple of minutes sleep before your blood curdling alarm goes off!
Eat Well, Sleep Well
If you are anything like me (let’s face it, lots of people are!) and LOVE food and are always planning your next meal, and when and where it is going to be consumed, then it is safe to say that food=life. It is good to eat a balanced, light meal before bed if possible or even something a little heavier to make you sleepy for a day time snooze. I try to avoid eating anything too heavy immediately before bed (within two hours) as I know that whilst I am trying to get some rest my tummy with be awake, trying to digest my feast! My favourite midweek meals are salmon and vegetables, steak and salad or even a big bowl of pasta (if I eat it early enough! That means that I am full enough to sleep, yet not too nourished that I am kept awake.
It may sound clichéd, but switching off electronics (even the TV!) before an early shift will ensure my mind is winding down (not to mention all of my appliances, including my brain, are fully energised for the coming shift ahead!). I even turn on the “night shift” feature on my iPhone, which ensures that the blue tinge from the phone screen is eliminated and a yellow, softer light illuminates the screen. This is supposed to be better for your eyes if you are naughty and use your phone in the dark when you are meant to be asleep. It also conserves battery life and makes me giggle, because my phone is on night shift, then I have morning shift! I like to try and wind down in my room with no light, no sound and no distractions. A candle and a book with maybe a cup of non-caffeinated tea always does the trick, too!
I hope these little tricks have been useful! They are not necessarily anything new, but they would be good to try if you are moving into a new role or even just want to try and make the most of your circadian rhythm!
*not really. Just coffee. The Champagne is French and comes in a bottle!