Live a healthy life, despite the stress

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Sushil Ramrakha
  • 92nd Air Refueling Squadron commander
"True greatness comes when you're tested," President Franklin Roosevelt said during the Second World War, and it still holds true today. 

Our Airmen are being tested on a daily basis, and greatness is an adjective they have earned. As we continue the eighth year fighting the Global War on Terrorism, the number and length of deployments have increased while budgetary constraints leave us looking for new ways to get the mission done. You don't have to look beyond our wing to see the hectic battle rhythm our Airmen have to contend with. 

So what's my point? We do all of this because we are America's Airmen and we have dedicated our lives to something bigger than we are. It's important to recognize this, but it's also important to recognize that our dedication comes with a price: stress. 

Being a successful wingman means learning to manage stress, both yours and those around you. With that in mind, here are some tips to managing your stress and being a good wingman. 

Exercise: Run, lift weights, ride a bike or do anything that gets your heart rate up and the endorphins flowing. Team sports are a great way to relive stress while building morale.
Eat right and get enough sleep: Studies show that stress leads to chronic illness and disease, and that the best prevention for this is a healthy lifestyle. 

Vent: Find a confidante you trust whether it's your spouse, your parent, your wingman, a good buddy from high school or the Military Family Life Consultant. Talking about your emotions and problems can clear your mind and help you understand what's really going on. 

Laugh: As Airmen, we're trained to take everything seriously because the fate of other peoples' lives is often in our hands. Take your job seriously, but remember to put into perspective what is serious and what isn't. Can you find some humor in a stressful situation? It's better to laugh than to complain. A positive outlook is contagious and will improve your life and the lives of the people around you. 

Time management: With so little time to spare, it's important not to waste any of it. Prioritize your tasks and take them one at a time. And do not procrastinate; it leads to extra stress and additional work. 

Find a hobby: Preferably one you can do with your family. Whether it is baseball, geocaching, computer games, or my favorite, golf, it's important to find something where you can unwind and let your mind focus on something other than work. 

Stop worrying about things you can't control: The next deployment, the next additional duty and the next assignment are always going to be around the corner. The only control you have is to do your best and communicate your needs and desires to your supervisor. Focus your energies on things you can change, such as improving your performance or relationships with family. 

Help someone: Reaching out to others, even in just the smallest way, benefits you. Helping doesn't have to be extravagant. Look for ways to perform good deeds in everyday life whether by giving your wingman a lift to work, mowing the yard for someone whose spouse is deployed, or taking on an extra task at work to help your buddy who's overwhelmed. 

Know when to get help: We don't automatically come equipped with the skills we need to do our jobs or be successful in our personal lives. But the resources to learn these skills are at our fingertips. Don't assume that asking for help equates to weakness. It takes strength to know your limitations and know when you need help. 

Be a great wingman: Be there for your coworker, your friends and your family. Recognize the signs of stress and provide help. 

Stress is an inevitable part of our lives. Some people thrive on it while others can easily feel overwhelmed. Regardless of which type you are, learn how to manage your stress and make it work for you. Take care of yourself and be a great wingman!