5 Tips For Flight Attendants Facing the Fear of Furlough

The last few months have proved to be tumultuous for flight attendants. The fear of furlough looms ominously; the thought of sickness ever present. Layovers feel more lonely than ever. Airports no longer buzz but exist, abandoned. The freedom to travel is almost nonexistent. There was an uncertainty that flight attendants were accustomed to but this uncertainty; the uncertainty of what will happen to our jobs over the next few months places our hearts, minds, and spirits in knots. The anticipation is intense, the anxiety palpable. You signed up to travel the world and not only has travel been taken away, but your livelihood is in a precarious state. This space you have entered and the one that you face is not easy or simple. It’s tough. Just tough. But so are you. 

Here are 5 tips for any flight attendant facing the fear of furlough. These won’t make your situation magically go away, but hopefully, they will help you live better and more peacefully, and powerfully through the difficult time.

  1. Accept your reality — Before you can find your way again in the mess and chaos that this year has introduced you to, you first have to accept this space. Surrender. Simply surrender and accept. It sounds ridiculous, but it truly is phenomenal how throwing up your hands and saying, “Ok. Ok. I’m here. I can’t change the circumstances surrounding me, so I’ll just accept it for what it is.” Not better than it is, and NOT worse than it is. Once you get to the point of acceptance, you can begin your climb out of the cave of despair that a potential furlough or job loss induces. 
  2. Write 3 Things You Are Thankful For. Everyday! — Cliche as it is, I do this. I write three things I’m thankful for everyday. In the darkest of my struggle with losing my income and uncertainty over my career due to COVID, I went to my journal and wrote. Some days, my thankful list was that of a five year old girl and included puppies, sunshine, and flowers (well, let’s be real. All days it includes those things and coffee of course;). What you are thankful for does not have to be big and if there are days you have to look around your apartment and say, “Sheessh.. I have enough toilet paper today,” so be it. Just find a way to be grateful through facing a possible furlough. 
  3. Stay present! It’s SUPER easy to get lost in the future and what could happen. I do this often and have to discipline my mind to stay in the present moment. Not in what was yesterday and not in what might be tomorrow, but in today. Your furlough isn’t happening today, and if it is, I’m sorry but you will get through this. My point is that, so often we worry about things that may and think that when they do happen, it will be horrible. Well, have you ever thought about this being an opportunity for something new and different? This furlough is painful, but there could be good in it. I realize that is WAY too much to think about right now, so for the moment, stay in the moment!
  4. Explore you — For maybe the first time as a flight attendant, you have slept in your own bed more than in a hotel room. And maybe, just maybe, being grounded wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be. Maybe you’ve had time to learn something new, get a puppy, or take an online class. Maybe you’ve strengthened your relationship or realized that the only reason that you were still working as a flight attendant was because it was what you knew. RedBull has a fun personality strengths test to help you discover what you are good at, how you communicate, and the ways in which you thrive. You can take the test for free by clicking this link.
  5. Speak power and positivity into your uncertainty – The way we feel on any given day can fluctuate wildly. Take it from me, an expressive, passionate, and emotions-on-my-sleeve kind of girl. For those of you in this boat with me, you and I must be vigilant to keep our emotions in check, especially when the job we love is at stake. You may feel like shit and the world is shit and everything is shit, but you MUST CHOOSE to speak power and positivity into your life. Into your mind. Into your day and world. Because if you don’t choose positivity for yourself and choose the best for yourself, who else will?! Often, I don’t even know if I believe the positive and powerful things I say to myself when I’m at a low point, but I do it anyway. For me, I read powerful and positive verses in the Bible, references that promise there is a purpose waiting for me and to ‘not fear.’ Also, I love this quote by Liz Gilbert —

“You have treasures hidden within you — extraordinary treasures — and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.”

You truly are an extraordinary treasure. Say that to yourself every day.

I understand that for some of you, the potential to be furloughed or losing your regular flight attendant rhythm has been (and is) absolutely devastating. Oh girl (and boys) — please give yourself permission to feel all of the emotions. This is a difficult season. But please, take special caution that you don’t allow circumstances to contribute to a decline in mental health or emotional stability. Here are some resources— many of them app based — to help you navigate this time in your life and give you tools to manage stress, combat anxiety, and lead you on this path, whether furloughed or not.

One final thought—— I hope you can remember that, often, the anticipation of an event is worse than the actual event itself. 

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About the Author Kara

Curious. Bubbly. Creative. Curating a life I don't need an escape from and inspiring you to do the same.

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