JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING, D.C. Every day we are faced with stressors. Our lives involve work, interpersonal struggles or conflicts, financial pressures and seemingly never-ending to-do lists. Here in the D.C.-metro area, we have added challenges of long-commutes, heavy traffic, and the occasional traffic snarl. Many of these stressors are out of our control, and at times can shift our life out of balance. To improve how fast we bounce back from these situations, we must strengthen our inner resolve, or foster resiliency.
What is resilience? It is the ability to withstand, recover from, and grow in the face of stress and changing life demands. It is an ongoing process that engages people in taking a number of steps to enhance their responses to adverse circumstances. One way to think about resilience is by thinking of people as rubber bands. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from the stretch placed on us by life.It is an applied skill to snap back to normal.
There are four parts to resiliency: mental, physical, social, and spiritual strengths. Let’s talk a bit about each one of those parts.
Mental strength is the ability to use challenging stressful experiences in a positive way. This is done by demonstrating self-control, stamina, and good character with both choices and actions. This strength is enhanced when you seek or offer help when needed. One important feature of mental strength is the ability to take responsibility for decisions, without dwelling on, or blaming yourself, for circumstances outside of your control.
Physical strength is based on the principle that optimal health is critical for optimal performance. Exercise, nutrition and training are the keys. Adequate sleep (7-8 hours a night), a well balanced diet (moderation with alcohol and sweets) and a routine physical activity program help support and maintain overall balance.
Social strength is about cultivating the personal and professional relationships in our lives. The relationships with our friends, family, “wingmen,” “battle buddies,” or “shipmates” are most helpful when they are built on trust, understanding, good communication, and positive support. This foundation fosters the mission and grows the services' most valuable asset: YOU! Everyone can encourage social strength through open and honest discussion, and by encouraging members and their families to use available resources when they are needed. When you know and understand the people around you, it is much easier to identify when they are having problems.
Spiritual strength is about having a sense of higher meaning in your life. Spirituality includes but is not limited to worldviews, religious faith, and sense of connectedness, values, ethics, and morals. For some, this is attending church, belonging to a spiritual group or speaking with a chaplain. For others, meditating, practicing yoga, or reconnecting with nature on a hike can fulfill this purpose.
What I want you to take from this article is that there is no reason to struggle with stress alone! There are numerous resources available to service members and their families. Here on Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, we have a variety of options to include: The 579MDG Mental Health Clinic (202-767-0611); Military & Family Life Consultants (202-253-5059); and Chaplain Services (202-767-5900). The fitness center (202-767-5895) and Health and Wellness Center (202-404-1025) have a wide range of fitness and nutrition classes, a relaxation room, and exercise equipment to assist with bolstering your physical strength.
It is sometimes hard to speak up and say life has become difficult or unmanageable, or that you are struggling; but when you do, the rewards from the help you receive are worth it. People with strong mental, physical, social, and spiritual fitness have the ability to withstand, recover and grow in the face of stress.