The word “social” can be defined as pertaining to, devoted to or characterized by friendly companionship or relations. “Fitness” is the condition of being physically in shape and healthy or the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task.
Put the two together and “social fitness” can be defined as the ability to engage in healthy social networks that promote overall well-being and optimal performance. Social fitness is a critical piece of the comprehensive fitness puzzle.
As people shift in and out of various relationships and roles in life, it is imperative they effectively communicate and work together. In recent months this shift has been a reality for many Airmen leaving the military.
One Airman in particular came to the 56th FSS Airman & Family Readiness Center distraught over being “forced” out of the Air Force and wondered what the future held. It was evident to me this person did not have a social network of people to bounce ideas off of and talk about apprehensions and fears.
I encouraged the Airman to reach out to others and not live in reactive mode. Resilience is tested when an Airman flounders in reactive mode. Fear, uncertainty, weakness and isolation are all destructive forces that can lead to abuse, depression and even suicide or other self-destructive behaviors.
The characteristics of social fitness include more proactive behaviors such as forming and maintaining relationships, being open to change, having the ability to trust, learning from mistakes, building upon strengths and focusing on a purpose. Instead of focusing in reactive mode, I encourage Airmen to change their thought processes and look at the positives of any situation.
When I asked the Airman what the positives might look like, it took a few moments, but the person realized several, which included the ability to move anywhere, go to school full time, and concentrate on family. I encouraged the Airman to think about personal strengths and focus on the good that could come out of the situation.
Hopefully this Airman left the A&FRC with a more resilient attitude and thought of approaching the situation with a new mind set. The Airman agreed asking for help was a good idea and that relationships and communication are vital, both in and out of the military.
The Air Force recognizes and values the importance of seeking help. There are many places on Luke Air Force Base that Airmen can reach out to.
For more information on resources, call the A&FRC at 623-856-6550.