Chief Technician Mike Hawkins joined the RAF in Feb '99, serving as a TG5 Technician. Today, Mike is based at RAF Brize Norton and competes in the RAF Tug of War team, proud supporters of the RAF Benevolent Fund.
With COVID-19 causing upheaval to daily life, in this guest blog, Mike explains how his experiences with the Tug of War team and the RAF more widely are helping him through this period of uncertainty.
In the RAF, we all know the great benefits of exercise: weight-control, healthy blood pressure, strong bones, and cardiac health. But anyone who has a regular fitness regime will also appreciate the positive effect this has on their mood and mental well-being.
We are especially attuned to this in the RAF Tug of War squad. We all have busy day jobs as regular servicemen and women in the RAF, so we must manage our strength and conditioning training, as well as time on the rope around our military roles, often around the world.
What has become clear is that we need to undertake strength and conditioning not just of our bodies, but also of our minds, to ensure we have the emotional and mental capacity to deal with today’s busy and complicated world.
Through the RAF Benevolent Fund, serving personnel nationwide can access Headspace, a mindfulness app. This is a self-guided meditation tool that personnel can do almost anywhere, from in their rooms or homes, to even at their desks for a few minutes of relaxation.
As Headspace can be accessed through a smartphone or tablet, we can sit with our earphones in and listen to the calming sessions discretely without anyone else knowing. This gives us a moment of peace or 'time out' during our demanding days and encourages us to relax, so that our mind regenerate in parallel to our body.
The RAF Benevolent Fund provides access to Headspace for serving personnel free of charge, removing one of the barriers that may prevent people from using it. Once tried, most find it a very useful tool in their day-to-day life far beyond their sport and fitness regimes. And during times of uncertainty such as these, it helps keeps us calm, focussed and mentally fit.