2021 is the year that one of my childhood dreams becomes a reality "space tourism." Citizens just like you and me will be able to take a trip into space with regular flights to above the Kármán line and back offered by among others Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX.
I already imagine myself up there one day viewing the earth from above. Ok, it is still a dream as I can't afford the ticket just yet, but I can imagine that one-day prices will have become more democratic and I will be able to afford it.
Journeying to space it will give your generation the planetary perspective on which the future of humanity rests that we're all in this together fellow travellers on Spaceship Earth.
Maybe by that time, I will not only be able to spend a few minutes in space but a few days on NASA's International Space Station (ISS), Orion Span's Aurora Station or the Gateway Foundation's Von Braun Space Hotel.
Needless to say, but we are truly living in an amazing time in human history where technology is offering us opportunities that only a few years ago were thought impossible.
Professionally as a forward-thinking Osteopath and Body-centred Stress Coach, I do ask myself the question: "How will the body deal with this unprecedented stressful experience?" It is not because it is an amazing experience that it isn't without stress and stress when not managed will have an impact on the private astronauts' health and physical, psychological, social and spiritual (biopsychosociospiritual) well-being?
The main physical-stress the body needs to deal with is the sudden acceleration to 3 - 4g followed by the few minutes of microgravity to then again be confronted with 3 or 4g on the way down.
There is also the increased anxiety and excitement stress... tensing muscles, increasing heart rate, blood pressure, changes in vascularisation, digestion, hormone levels (increased adrenaline and cortisol...)
Not to forget: "How will body, mind and spirit cope with the overview perspective?" Seeing the earth for the first time in its entirety is an unprecedented experience in our evolution. This overview effect might be life-changing for some in a positive way, but for others, it might leave a devastating effect when suddenly faced with the reality that the earth is but a tiny, fragile ball of life, "hanging in the void", shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere.
I see it very often in my practice how life-changes or extreme emotions have an impact on my patient's health and well-being. This impact goes from neck, shoulder or back pain to mood swings, depression, short-temperedness and concentration loss. Research on life-changes has been done and led to the creation of the Holmes and Rahe rating scale. When you add up all units for each event experienced to you in the last year and you come to 300 units the likelihood of becoming ill or having an accident is increased with 70%.
So knowing how change and experiences can have an effect on health and well-being (in my practice 3 to 4 months after a main good or bad life-changing event), I wonder how many units of stress a space tourist will have experienced preparing for and during a flight (so over a period of lets say 3 months)?
What if for example, the spine is not aligned, a vertebrae, disc or rib is just a tiny bit out of place? You won't be aware of this, there is no pain, but what will happen when you suddenly the acceleration to 3g confronts you with a force equal to a cow sitting on your chest?
So, you've had the most exhilarating ride and experience of your life, you saw the earth from above but the acute exposure to stress has - without you knowing or feeling it - led to long lasting adaptive changes in hormone levels (adrenaline and cortisol) and stress-susceptible brain regions, like the amygdala or hippocampus? Over time you will experience physical discomfort and behavioural changes not for the better of mankind. Just look at the behaviour of someone who is stressed.
All of these questions are going through my mind... You may think I'm exaggerating, it is all speculation Tom... but my experience as an osteopath tells me otherwise and this needs to be addressed or at least researched.
I believe it to be essential that private astronauts and space tourists (that are not rigorously tested and trained) not only train for their experience of a lifetime, but also receive appropriate person- and body-centred Stress Coaching.
Personally I think it makes sense to assure that the private astronauts' journey includes body-centred stress coaching. It will make the journey even more enjoyable and rewarding as it helps the body towards a dynamic balance to cope with the extra stressors put on it before and after 'the' flight of a lifetime.
I want to address this. I want to be involved in helping private astronauts have the experience of a lifetime in the best conditions and have mankind benefit from their experience afterwards. I want to train others in this approach and improve my approach learning form others.
To be continued.
Osteopath, Body-centred Stress Coach for Space Tourists 😉, Speaker, Author of "Futurize Yourself"
Tom Meyers, is an osteopath, body-centred stress coach, wellbeing futurist, space enthusiast, TEDx organiser and author of “Futurize Yourself” and “The Futures Effect”.
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