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129 RQW Safety Files: Stress Management

MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif. -- Statistics have proven that, as a nation, stress related mishaps make up a very large number of accidents each year, the 129th Rescue Wing is certainly not immune to this statistic.

As a matter of fact, I would put the wing in a high risk category to stress related mishaps simply by the work that we do every day.

With the pressures of getting the aircraft off the ground, completing mission essential projects on time often with half the resources necessary, and all the last minute additional duties tasked just in time for the drill weekend, how do we cope with the everyday work stresses here?

The pressures to complete these tasks are not going away anytime soon, this part of the equation we can't change. However, we can change the way we deal with the stressful environment which in turn are likely to positively affect other areas of our lives.

I'm certainly not an authority on stress management which is why I have left it up to the experts at Helpguide to impart their wisdom and knowledge on this topic with an excerpt from their article "Stress Management: How to Reduce, Prevent and Cope with Stress." Helpguide is an online information and resource hub to help readers understand, prevent, and resolve many of life's issues.

Helpguide's team consists of health experts, writers, and web professionals providing information on topics like mental and emotional health, family and relationships, and healthy living.

Stress Management Strategy #1: Avoid Unnecessary Stress
Not all stress can be avoided, and it's not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.
- Learn how to say "no." Know your limits and stick to them
- Avoid people who stress you out. Limit the amount of time you spend these people
- Take control of your environment. Step away from stressful situations
- Avoid hot-button topics. Cross uncomfortable topics of your conversation list
- Pare down your to-do list. Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks

Stress Management Strategy #2: Alter the Situation
If you can't avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn't present itself in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.
- Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. Communicate your concerns
- Be willing to compromise. Find a happy middle ground
- Be more assertive. Don't take a backseat in your own life, deal with problems head on
- Manage your time better. Plan ahead and make sure you don't overextend yourself

Stress Management Strategy #3: Adapt To the Stressor
If you can't change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
- Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective
- Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation
- Adjust your standards. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection
- Focus on the positive. Reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life

Stress Management Strategy #4: Accept the Things You Can't Change
Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can't prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it's easier than railing against a situation you can't change.
- Don't try to control the uncontrollable. Focus on the things you can control
- Look for the upside. Try to look at difficulties as opportunities for personal growth
- Share your feelings. Expressing what you're going through can be very cathartic
- Learn to forgive. Accept that we live in an imperfect world and people make mistakes

Stress Management Strategy #5: Make Time for Fun and Relaxation
Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you'll be in a better place to handle life's stressors when they inevitably come. Don't get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury
- Set aside relaxation time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule
- Connect with others. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life
- Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy
- Keep your sense of humor. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress

Stress management strategy #6: Adopt a healthy lifestyle
You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health.
- Exercise regularly. Nothing beats aerobic exercise for releasing pent-up stress
- Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress
- Reduce caffeine and sugar. Temporary highs end with a crash in mood and energy
- Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Deal with problems with a clear mind
- Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body

To read similar helpful articles like this please visit http://helpguide.org/. If you have comments and/or suggestions you would like to make about the 129 RQW Safety Files please contact MSgt Vincent Brouillard at vincent.brouilard@ang.af.mil or 650-603-9273.