Cabin crew loneliness and how to avoid it

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By on Monday 22nd Oct, 2012 at 11:20

Cabin crew are hectically busy for long periods of time, but can suddenly find themselves alone in a hotel room thousands of miles from home, with no-one to talk to.

Being away from home – essentially feeling homesick – is one element of the loneliness associated with cabin crew careers. Psychologists say that if being away from home is a regular part of your job, a feeling of ‘disconnectedness’ with the world can creep into an individual’s mind, and lead to further problems of stress, fear and anxiety. Another issue for cabin crew is working with teams of people who are professional and friendly, but different on every trip, so you rarely get time to bond, and make lasting, genuine friendships with colleagues – something people in other professions take for granted.

“You don’t necessarily have to be alone to feel lonely,” says Dr Mark Lauderdale. “Loneliness, like many other feelings, can be a habit. You can carry this feeling with you into many situations in your life – even situations where you are surrounded by people.”

Lauderdale says there are many techniques that can be employed that will turn feelings of loneliness into confidence and strength. Positive thinking, and training your brain to think beyond the loneliness can be put into play. There are certainly many self help books, and online resources that can help you tackle loneliness head on.

We asked Cabin Crew readers about this issue of loneliness on our Facebook page, and you kindly provided some useful thoughts.

“Yes it is sometimes lonely being cabin crew,” says Laura, “but sometimes I need to be alone, so I like it! And when I need to speak with somebody I use my Whatsapp.”

Angela says that crew have become used to writing their feelings on social media.... “And also some of them have a blog to write their own story.” Clearly social media networks and messaging services are a real lifeline for flight attendants jetting around the world.

Sometimes faith can help cabin crew during the quiet times – as well as the busy times.
Mbuso says its important “keep in touch with family very often, and always pray and read the Bible. You'll feel God’s presence around you”.

Zee has a philosophical take: “People are lonely because they build walls, instead of bridges...”

What the experts say

The advice given by the experts is to identify exactly what is making you feel lonely, think about how you would prefer to feel, and set out some strategies that will help you bridge the gap between the two. This might be planning Skype calls with loved ones when you can, using social media to connect with the world again, making an effort to go out and do something sociable rather than stay in, or even something as simple as taking belongs from home with you, that will give you a psychological boost – photos of your partner, family and friends.

Of course it's worth asking fellow crew members if they'd like to join you for a meal or some exploring when you arrive in a new city. Not everyone will want to, so don't feel deflated if you can't round up instant mates. Stay positive about the fact you are somewhere exciting in the first place. Ludwig says: “Being lonely is a state of mind! Being a flight attendant is the most fun you'll ever have, where you can see the world while getting paid. You can different cuisine from different people...drink...If that doesn't make you happy and you still feel lonely, I suggest you can go to a psychologist and get some help.”

This may sound dramatic, but in fact it’s true that some counselling or a few sessions with a trained psychologist might be very valuable to cabin crew members feeling that loneliness is making them disillusioned with the job. Often talking through your feelings, verbalizing exactly what bothers you, and having some guidance on what can help overcome these issues of loneliness can make all the difference.

Airlines can help here, as they are very keen for cabin crew staff to feel happy and motivated. So if you are suffering from loneliness which is leading to anxiety and job dissatisfaction, talk to your line manager or the HR department who will be happy to help.

So really loneliness is about not feeling connected, and thanks to modern technology, and hopefully the support network of your employer, any disconnection should be easily overcome. We certainly hope you find ways of living a happy, positive and empowered life as cabin crew.

Browse our cabin crew jobs today.

Photo: Mauren veras on flickr

Article written by Alison Clements