This past week was one of my worst when it comes to stress. I dont know about you, but for me I am driven to succeed in many things. And to succeed, it generally requires top notch performance in all aspects. That I can do and work towards, but the problem is when I’m being watched. Especially for practical components. I actually feel those eyes boring into me and in that moment I lose all grounding; my heart literally goes into panic mode and feels as though it is beating outside my chest; the communication signals from my brain to my hands are severed; my hands become instantly clammy and useless.
When I look at a normal stress day for me, this is kind-of the pattern of what it looks like:
Overall stress level is generally well below the 25 mark and according to Garmin that is a good state of rest, well managed with a pretty constant heart rate.
According to the Garmin algorithms:
- 0-25 is considered a state of rest
- 26-50 is considered a state of low stress
- 51-75 is considered a state of medium stress
- 76-100 is considered a state of high stress
So why I am sharing this?
Well, this past week was my RPAS practical component. In aviation terminology it is known as a remote pilot aircraft system. In layman’s terms, it is known as a drone.
There are certain legal requirements to attain accreditation by the Civil Aviation Authority. What I didn’t know was that in order to get accredited the drone is required to be flown in Atti-mode (attitude mode named quite appropriately), which means there is no GPS lock for stability and positioning purposes. Any slight breeze or wind will affect the actual position of the drone, causing it to move in direction with the wind, totally out of sync for your specific maneuver that needs to be completed within specified criteria. Orientation becomes critical.
So just to give you an idea of what my body went though, this is what my stress levels looked like this past week…
(Funny enough on this day I actually mastered most the moves without much wind effect. I felt good afterwards but still maintained high stress levels. You can even see the nice blue lines during my sleep on the right hand side).
Friday: Recommendation for final skills test
Saturday: Final skills test
This was the final skills test day. With only 11 minutes of flight time, stress was very high but at least short lived. I mean just look at how nicely I slept (throughout the afternoon and later that night). My husband even said I had a new snore that sounded like a burp – I called it a snorby – that’s how deep I slept.
Stress is an amazing thing. And sometimes we can’t predict how our bodies will react in certain circumstances, but we can understand how and why and try to manage that, as best we can.
As you have seen, performance anxiety for me is very real and something I need to do a lot of self-talk around, including simple things like wiggling my toes to help ground myself back into reality and bring the focus back. Chewing gum I hear is also an option.
The good news though, is that all this high level stress has actually paid off and I am officially a qualified drone pilot! Ok it sounds pathetic, but hey – look what I went though to get it! Surely that counts for something!