JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska --
STRESS. The big question--how does stress in fitness affect our lives and what can we do about it? Stress is a word we all know too well in this complex, time-bandit society. If you think about all the things you did in the last hour and write them down, you will see you must be some kind of super hero to sustain all the complexities life is throwing at you. On second thought, don’t write them down, refrain from that stressor.
Stress is one of those sneaky things that we combat daily. In the past few months I touched on fitness assessment goals and healthy tips from professionals and people who care about our fitness.
Article one, “What are the keys to FA success?” talked about the importance of diet and nutrition when preparing for the Air Force Fitness Assessment with questions like “What should I eat?” “What shouldn’t I eat?” “What is the best exercise program for me?” and “How long can I let something go?”
Article two, “Fitness Assessment Success Part II,” addressed physical activity and the endless opportunities for a military members on JBER to help them achieve fitness goals.
This final article in the series addresses you mental state, the third component of fitness.
How do we deal with stress?
The military fitness assessment is designed to measure your individual fitness level, making you a well-prepared military member. And mental health, resiliency and coping is part of that overall wellness.
“The way we approach life makes a difference in life satisfaction and overall health,” said Julia Wall, behavioral health consultant at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
According to Wall, research has shown that if we view life negatively and focus on the drama we will find ourselves making unhealthy choices such as not exercising, not having a balanced diet, and not exceling in our careers. It may even lead to bigger issues such as heart disease, depression and anxiety.
All these negatives perpetuate our belief that life is terrible. So, what can you do to change this cycle? Change your thinking.
One way to do this is to change the way you think about stress. We all have it and some of it is unavoidable. We can’t stop the snow from falling or stressful events in life such as a death in the family, a baby being born, or a promotion at work. If we allow ourselves to think “things are so stressful! Nothing will get better!” It can lead to poor, self-defeating decisions like choosing fast food over grocery shopping or not go to the gym because we are exhausted and don’t recognize that eating healthy and working out will actually decrease our stress.
What can you think instead?
“Take a deep breath and try to put some perspective on it,” said Wall. “When we are in times of high stress we focus on the negative. Ask yourself what is going well right now? How can you decrease some of your stress? Could you say no to an activity or plan ahead so things are not so rushed at the end of the day? How can I solve this problem? What is in or out of my control? These questions will allow you to step outside of the current stressor and see the bigger picture.”
Once you see things clearer you will be able to make healthier choices leading to being able to focus in your job and also reach your physical goals for your FA test. If you find yourself continuing to feel overwhelmed or hopeless you can contact the 673rd Behavioral Health Optimization Program at