Commentary

July 26, 2013

Combating stress

Lt. Col. Paul Tombarge
21st Operations Group commander

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Stress. The Oxford dictionary defines stress as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” We’ve all experienced it; some more than others.

With the continuing budget shortfalls, uncertainty of sequestration furloughs, a pending compliance inspection and the upcoming summer move cycle, many of us are feeling much more stress than usual. The key is how we deal with that stress.

Bev Klug, director of Mindfulness-Based Programs at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, notes that there are two distinct types of stress – chronic and acute. Acute stress is temporary and can often be motivating, such as nearing a deadline. Chronic stress continues to build and can lead to long-term problems.

We all have different thresholds for stress, but there are a few tools we can all use to help prevent chronic stress from taking effect.

First, realize that whatever you might be going through is probably temporary and you are probably not the only one experiencing it. Although it may not seem like it at the time, whatever challenge you are facing will eventually pass and if you share what you’re going through with a friend or co-worker, you’ll likely find you’re not alone.

Second, strive to have a positive attitude. Don’t dwell on a problem or event that happened in the past. Instead, try to learn from the event and move on in a positive direction. The Air Force’s Comprehensive Airmen Fitness program identifies “The 5 Cs of positive behavior” – care, commit, connect, communicate and celebrate. The 5 Cs essentially take the idea of a positive attitude and apply it to our daily lives. Care for our wingmen by showing respect and support, commit to excellence in all we do, connect with others, communicate in a positive way, and celebrate positive results and accomplishments. A good attitude really is contagious.

Third, if your objective seems out of reach, set smaller, more attainable, interim goals that will lead you to that overall objective. Doing so will make the path less overwhelming and help you see the light at the end of the tunnel. Several years ago, I completed an Ironman distance triathlon: a 2.4 mile open water swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run. A 140.6 mile physical challenge can seem overwhelming to anyone, but if you focus on one challenge at a time and strive to reach the next checkpoint along the way, the path seems more achievable and you will eventually reach the finish line, as did I.

Fourth, focus on maintaining balance across your pillars of resiliency. The Air Force’s CAF philosophy identifies these as physical, social, mental and spiritual but I prefer to think of them as work, family, mind, body and spirit. Being mentally and physically fit will help you combat stress. Just as importantly, you need to balance work and family. However you define your individual pillars of resiliency, if they fall out of balance, stress will build up over time. Unless you refocus your priorities, the building will collapse.

Periods of mental or emotional strain are inevitable. Use the tools at your disposal to prevent chronic stress. Prepare yourself by being mentally and physically fit, maintain a positive attitude, realize the current situation is only temporary, and focus on achievable goals. If you do, you will reach the finish line and be stronger for doing so.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis

CDOS 2014 comes to a close

U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis Many people view the Labor Day weekend as the end of summer and a last chance to travel, hit Lake Mead, fire up the grill or indulge in their favorite outdoor ...
 
 

Lomie G. Heard Elementary School faculty looking forward to new school year

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle Dominga Romero (left), special programs teacher assistant, and Terri Gravnitz (right), early childhood special education teacher, prepare their classroom for the start of the new school year at Lomie G. Heard Elementary School on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Aug. 21. The new school year...
 
 

Revisiting, examining four elements of leadership

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Whenever I see a new revision of the Professional Development Guide, I find myself reflecting on an experience I had meeting an awards board almost 20 years ago. I was a young staff sergeant and my flight chief was a panel member. He came up with a question from the 1993...
 

 

Deeds, not words make ‘quiet professionals’

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — As I was preparing for my assumption of command of the 60th Aerial Port Squadron, I was learning as much as I could about the squadron. One thing I immediately looked at was our squadron patch, because I wanted to see the emblem that represents the squadron to the rest of...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler

Joint U.S. forces train together during integrated Green Flag exercise

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 309th Fighter Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., taxis to the runway during Green Flag-West 14-10 at Nellis AFB, Nev., Aug. 21. Green ...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay

Get your caffeine at Coolbeans café

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay The Coolbeans Café, a coffee shop serving Starbucks is now open in Hangar 1003 to serve the Airmen of Creech Air Force Base. Airmen interested in getting out of their work cent...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin