Have you ever started a new role, promotion, or have been affected by a layoff and feel out of sorts? You are not the only one, this was certainly the case for Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper. The headline read “An astronaut can walk in space but can’t handle standing on her own two feet.”
Heidemarie is one of only 7 women who have walked in space, and was a member of the Atlantis crew that helped with the construction of the space station. When her team arrived back on earth, Heidemarie was given a few of hours of orientation. She was then asked to join in a post mission news conference. During the conference, she collapsed twice, and was eventually taken away by NASA officials. There was nothing really wrong, it was just that her body was adjusting to being back in a world with gravity.
Her story piqued my interest, and so I did a little research on the effect of lack of gravity on the human body. Muscle mass vanishes at the rate of 5% per week, and you lose as much as 22% of your blood, which affects your heart. There is also a long term affect on bone density.
We do not tend to notice the effect of gravity until it isn’t there anymore. It’s a little like dealing with a lay-off or moving on to a new project, team, or a new organization. You may not have realized all the career “gravity” that was around you – that gave you structure and order and a sense of security. Once you find yourself in a new situation, you may feel you’ve gone from “Superstar Astronaut” to not being able to stand on your own two feet, as Piper said; “Boy, if that is not a little embarrassing.” This is what’s called your adjustment period. It will all come back, you just need to get adjusted to the new circumstances.
Astronauts get prepared to come back to earth – they exercise both physically and mentally to make the transition. You also will need to consider this before your next move. Then, once again, you will be off to the stars & beyond
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