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NEWS | April 10, 2014

Take time to unwind: stress management during National Stress Awareness Month

By Senior Airman Aubrey White 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Stress happens. It can be inevitable for some and intolerable for others. April is National Stress Awareness Month and Joint Base Langley-Eustis Behavioral Health organizations are helping U.S. Air Force Airmen, U.S. Army Soldiers and their families effectively cope with stress.

U.S. Service members, dependents and retirees in the JBLE community have several options for seeking assistance with stress management, including the McDonald Army Health Center Behavioral Health Clinic at Fort Eustis, the 633rd Medical Group Behavioral Health Optimization Program, Mental Health Clinic and Family Advocacy Program, as well as Military OneSource services.

"[Service members] coming to the MHC appear to have a lot of the same stressors we see with people everywhere," said Aillen Ford, 633rd Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy outreach manager. "They have relationship, work, school issues [and] stress around [deployments]."

The BHOP is the first stop for those looking for brief treatment for behavioral health concerns.

According to U.S. Public Health Service Cmdr. Bryan Davidson, 633rd Air Base Wing director of Psychological Health, the program is friendly and offers walk-in services to individuals in need of tools to manage issues like sleep disturbance, mild anxiety or depression, migraines and relationship problems. A social worker, psychologist and nurse are embedded within the family health clinic to assist with the program.

Patients like BHOP because of its convenience, he continued. They can often be seen at the same time they're seen by their primary care manager.

Although individuals may think of stress as undesirable or damaging, Ford said it's possible for those same stressors to be constructive and help with career progression.

"Negative stressors can also be positive and motivating," Ford said. "We are motivated to study to pass a class to get a degree, and we want that degree to receive a particular job or promotion. How we look at the stressors in our lives affects how we feel about those stressors. Essentially, our thoughts affect our mood.

"If we look at things as challenges rather than roadblocks we are more apt to be creative and find solutions rather than quit, get angry or become depressed," she said.

Dr. Robert Marietta, 633rd MDOS staff psychiatrist, and Lt. Col. Sheila Beville, 633rd MDOS flight commander, offered the following methods to help deal with stress:

1. Talk to someone about worrisome feelings, whether that person is family, a friend, chaplain, coworker or in a Service member's chain of command.

2. Get healthy! Taking care of overall personal health through diet, exercise or going to the doctor for a check-up will help reduce stress.

3. Laugh. Watch a funny show or tell a joke - do whatever it takes to smile.

4. Have a positive outlook. No matter the challenge at hand, try to put a positive spin on it and let that be the focal point.

5. Help someone else who may be dealing with their own stressors. Placing focus on others also helps during the healing process.

In addition to the services provided by the JBLE Behavioral Health clinics, the Langley Health and Wellness Center will host stress management classes from 11 a.m. to noon the first Tuesday of each month. Class participants will learn how to recognize stressors, identify how stress is affecting them, learn coping and relaxation techniques and change their train of thought.

For more information about the classes, contact Ford at 764-2427. For a comprehensive list of resources and services to assist with stress management, visit