AFIMSC Chaplain Team Presents Stress Management Strategies > Air Force Materiel Command > View Article

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, TX – From work and family to world events beyond our control, our lives are filled with stress.

While stress is a normal part of life, being able to recognize and manage it — and knowing when and how to get help when it reaches an unhealthy level — is important for overall well-being.

The Air Force Chaplain’s Corps is one resource available to help pilots and families manage stress.

“Your chaplaincy team is here to help,” said Air Force Stabilization and Mission Support Center Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Gregory Bronson. “We have the resources available inside and outside AFIMSC.”

Daily stress management

Stress is simply the body’s reaction to the demands of the world. It can make people feel nervous, anxious, or excited, even with good things like vacations and holidays. While people can’t avoid stress completely, the pastor’s team recommends taking deliberate steps to manage daily stress so it doesn’t turn into a greater health concern.

“Uncertainty permeates many areas of life,” said Reverend (Lieutenant Colonel) Joshua Payne. “This increases the likelihood of perfect stormy moments.”

To manage the routine stress that can come from this certainty, pastors recommend looking at the overarching four pillars of a pilot’s fitness—mental, physical, social, and spiritual—and working to strengthen neglected areas.

“We wouldn’t think about running, doing push-ups or squats to assess fitness without exercising at all. However, we do it with other areas of our lives,” Bronson said.

He recommends making time for social interactions and creating a plan for spiritual fitness.

“Intentionally scheduling free time in a calendar: daily, weekly, monthly, and annually,” he said. Take your knee and pause, even if it’s just getting up from the office, take a walk and get a glass of water.”

Chaplain (Colonel) Ted Wilson, AFIMSC Chaplain Corps Section Chief, also recommends cutting off social media or obsessing over the daily news from time to time to take a break from pessimism and bad news.

“Go a few days without turning on the TV; you’ll survive,” he said.

Balance life with work

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important for managing stress, but it can be challenging when working from home. The pastors said that establishing boundaries and establishing routines is especially important in a remote work environment.

Their tips for achieving a better work-life balance include:

  • Stick to a schedule and time to finish the workday.
  • Dedicate a workspace away from normal daily activities.
  • Resist the temptation to turn on your laptop or check email outside of business hours.
  • Put that full, honest day into hard work, but take the time to enjoy the family – go out to lunch, even if it’s just a picnic in the backyard, go visit your child at school, run a errand with your spouse, etc. .
  • Take some time for yourself. This may mean spending time alone with your family.

When to ask for help

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, uncontrolled stress can lead to serious health problems. Over time, constant stress on the body may contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and other illnesses, including mental disorders such as depression or anxiety.

Payne said self-awareness, thinking, and understanding personal warning signs are an important first step to getting help when you need it.

“Our cars have hazard lights on when the weather is hot or the oil runs out,” he said. “It may be helpful to take the time to reflect on our common warnings. Even better, ask someone who knows us well to provide awareness of our warning lights.”

According to Wilson, these warning signs can include:

  • Changes in habits — including spending, drinking, eating, or sleeping — that persist for more than two months
  • Emotions and emotions toward others
  • Avoid or cut off contact with others
  • Desire to lose or get away
  • No signs of despair

If someone feels despondent, Wilson recommends seeking help immediately.

“Talk to a quick guy when this happens, and be upfront and honest,” he said.

Resources

There are many agencies and organizations available to help pilots and families manage stress. They include:

  • For military members and their families, Military OneSource offers a wide range of one-on-one counseling, training and counseling for many aspects of military life: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/.
  • Civil servants and their family members may contact the Employee Assistance Program for free and confidential services. For more information, visit www.afpc.af.mil/Airman-and-Family/Personal-and-Work-Life/.
  • Military kids ages 6-17 can access age-appropriate resources to help deal with the unique psychological challenges of military life through Military Kids Connect, https://militarykidsconnect.health.mil.
  • Stabilization pilots and family readiness centers can connect pilots and their families with resources to meet their needs within the local community. They typically offer training, workshops, consulting, and programs that encourage self-sufficiency, enhance mission readiness and resilience and facilitate adaptation to the military lifestyle.
  • Ordination priest teams provide pastoral care and counseling service to those who believe in the faith and those who do not.
  • Military personnel may also contact a local mental health clinic for services.

“I’m a bit biased, but the Legion of Priests are a great resource; and we have privileged connections, which means we don’t talk to anyone about anything and we can’t be forced to do it,” Wilson said.

“You are not alone in this,” he added. “You have people who love and care about you. Go to those friends and family who have earned your trust over the years. Don’t be afraid to talk to others.