Stress management: Keep things in perspective

  • Published
  • By Tyler Hemstreet
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Stress can work for you and against you.

It is the bodies' reaction to a new situation, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, said staff psychologist Capt. Michael Jones, 62nd Medical Operations Squadron.

When the heart beats faster, the body produces adrenaline. When adrenaline is produced, people breathe more rapidly, are more alert and may perspire more.

The adrenaline response is what keeps Airmen safe when they are in battle situations, Captain Jones said. 

"The problem is that people are having the adrenaline response for minor stressors," he said. "Often it comes from their own alarming perceptions of what is happening."

When the body is constantly wound up and can't relax, these same responses can lead to increased blood pressure, anxiety attacks and a wide range of physical disorders, Captain Jones said.

When people are stressed out and have a lot of demands on their time they usually knock off the things that seem dispensable, said Capt. Holly McFarland, 62nd MDOS.

"That usually includes exercise," Captain McFarland said.

But by removing exercise from the equation, people get rid of a very good way to help deal with the stress, she said.

"We tell them to bump up the exercise when they are feeling stressed," Captain McFarland said.

Planning time for relaxation is also key, Captain Jones said.

Five minutes of stretching, deep breathing or uninterrupted silence can help in breaking the pattern of tension and fatigue, he said. 

Identifying what things people are doing to create more stress is another good way to manage stress, said Captain McFarland.

While the best way to bring the stress to a manageable level is to try and avoid or eliminate unnecessary stressful situations, Captain Jones said, people must also recognize that some stress is necessary and beneficial.

"Sometimes people have too much focus on eliminating their stress and too little focus on building up the good things that balance it out," he said.

When you can't avoid the situation, balance the stressful situations with periods of relaxation, Captain Jones said.

The big problem is that when people are stressed out, they stop doing things they really enjoy in life, Captain McFarland said.

Sometimes that can mean either going out with friends or exercising, she said.

"You have to have at least one thing a week that you can get excited about and look forward to," Captain McFarland said.