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Resiliency: Optimal fitness and performance

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- The term "resiliency" is an important concept that many Department of Defense military, civilian and family members have read, heard and/or spoken about recently.

Yet what exactly does "resiliency" mean within the context of a military community?

The DoD Center of Excellence for Psychological Health defines Resiliency as "the ability to withstand, recover and/or grow in the face of stressors and changing demands."

To further enhance Airman, organizational and community resilience, the U.S. Air Force introduced the Comprehensive Airman Fitness approach. The CAF model is built upon the following four domains of fitness:
  • Physical - Endurance, nutrition, recovery and strength. 
  • Mental - Awareness, adaptability, decision-making and positive thinking.
  • Social - Communication, connectedness, social support and teamwork.
  • Spiritual - Core values, perseverance, perspective and purpose.
"The Air Force implemented a Resiliency Element within all Mental Health Services Flights throughout the force," said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Sean Bennett, chief of the 1st Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron Resiliency Element. "The Hurlburt MHS staff assists commanders, first sergeants, leaders and supervisors in sustaining comprehensive Airmen fitness through a variety of outreach and prevention efforts."

These services offered by the Hurlburt Field MHS staff include:
  • Command and Leadership Consultation
  • Team Building
  • Pre- and Post-Deployment Briefings
  • Domestic Violence Prevention
  • Suicide Awareness and Prevention
  • New Parent Support
  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention
  • Traumatic Stress Response and Crisis Support
  • Integrated Delivery System Collaboration
"These and many other services are available to the Hurlburt Community and can be tailored upon request by unit leadership," Bennett said.

For additional tips to sustain overall wellbeing, consider the following "10 Ways to Build Resilience" from the American Psychological Association:

#1-Make connections. Good relationships with close family members, friends, or others are important. Accepting help and support from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens resilience. Some people find that being active in civic groups, faith-based organizations or other local groups provides social support and can help with reclaiming hope. Assisting others in their time of need also can benefit the helper.

#2-Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems. You can't change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you interpret and respond to these events. Try looking beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a little better. Note any subtle ways in which you might already feel somewhat better as you deal with difficult situations.

#3-Accept that change is a part of living. Certain goals may no longer be attainable as a result of adverse situations. Accepting circumstances that cannot be changed can help you focus on circumstances that you can alter.

#4-Move toward your goals. Develop some realistic goals, and do something regularly - even if it seems like a small accomplishment - that enables moving toward your goals. Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, "What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?"

#5-Take decisive actions. Act on adverse situations as much as you can. Take decisive actions, rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away.

#6-Look for opportunities for self-discovery. People often learn something about themselves and may find that they have grown in some respect as a result of their struggle with loss. Many people who have experienced tragedies and hardship have reported better relationships, greater sense of personal strength even while feeling vulnerable, increased sense of self-worth, a more developed spirituality, and heightened appreciation for their life.

#7-Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence in your ability to solve problems and trusting your instincts helps build resilience.

#8-Keep things in perspective. Even when facing very painful events, try to consider the stressful situation in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing the event out of proportion.

#9-Maintain a hopeful outlook. An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life. Try visualizing what you want, rather than worrying about what you fear.

#10-Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Taking care of yourself helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience. The key is to identify ways that are likely to work well for you as part of your own personal strategy for fostering resilience.

The MHS Flight is located on the second floor of the Hurlburt Main Clinic, and the staff can be reached at 881-4237.

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