Whether it’s welcomed or unexpected, change isn’t always easy—but it’s always an opportunity for growth. Zeroing in on the present may help you avoid stress and keep you focused on the mission at hand, but that avoidance may become a normal practice on and off the job, especially when facing a major transition. Perhaps you’ll be leaving your current command for an upcoming PCS, IA deployment, or for other reasons; or you’re facing retirement or leaving the Navy. Even in unfamiliar situations, Controllability and Predictability can help you navigate new waters and thrive in your next phase of service or life.
One way to gain a sense of control and prepare for any transition is to start making connections and networking. If you’re going to PCS, think of someone that you can reach out to when things get stressful. Give him or her a heads up that you’ll be moving and ask if they will help you get connected within your new community. The Sponsor Program can also help you and your family get linked into your new unit and community, while your local Relocation Assistance Program can help simplify your move.
Sailors who aren’t in transition can help those who are by checking on that person regularly to see how things are going. They’ll appreciate a trusted friend having their back, and your perspective might help them get a better grasp on what lies ahead. Leaders can help as well. Send personal introductory letters or emails to a new check-in’s family and ask about their specific needs or questions. Building that relationship early on will help families feel comfortable speaking up if they have concerns about their Sailor that leadership may not otherwise detect. A supportive and welcoming command environment can help ease the transition process.
Proactive preparation can also help reinforce a sense of control and predictability. Whether you’re a first timer or a pro at deployments, planning is crucial to help you and your family manage logistics and shape expectations in advance. The excitement of coming home can be stressful as well, especially with the change in pace when reintegrating back into family life. Check out this Real Warriors feature for tips to consider when reconnecting with family and friends.
Perhaps the most anxiety-producing transition is preparing for life after the Navy. Navy’s Transition GPS can help with pre-separation questions. You can also take proactive measures, like learning how to “de-militarize your resume,” in order to take some of the stress out of the next phase in life. Speaking with friends who have already retired or separated and are thriving in their new careers can also ease anxiety—and help get you connected.
With any change, the Relationships you build will help carry you through life’s challenges. Having the support of others, controlling what you can and preparing for the predictable can help take the stress out of the next chapter. Remember, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” —Charles Darwin
Engaged leadership is essential to building a supportive command climate. It’s not always easy to recognize distress signals or to determine the best way to reach out to a Sailor who may be having trouble navigating life’s changes. As we continue our focus on transitions, leaders at all levels should become familiar with the practical tips and resources provided in the Navy Leader’s Guide for Managing Sailors in Distress—now available as a smart phone application. The “Personnel & Family” section includes beneficial information and recommendations to help you support Sailors in various life and career transitions.
The Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) recently launched a smart phone application for the Navy Leader’s Guide, an online handbook to help Navy leaders recognize and assist Sailors displaying distressed behaviors.
NMCPHC developed the original online version of the Navy Leader’s Guide for Managing Sailors in Distress and partnered with the Defense Department’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2) to develop the mobile app edition. The Navy Leader’s Guide is primarily used by Sailors in supervisory roles to help them identify Sailors who may be showing signs of being in distress. It also provides information on operational stress control, suicide prevention, mental health, medical issues, and common problems that junior Sailors face along with supportive interventions, resources and strategies, as well as official guidance leaders need when they are assisting a distressed Sailor.
“As psychological and emotional well-being is a key component of operational and mission readiness, NMCPHC realized there was a need for Navy leaders to have access to this important resource from wherever they were regardless of computer availability,” said Cmdr. Connie Scott, NMCPHC Health Promotion and Wellness Department Head. “NMCPHC saw the reach and portability of mobile technology and apps as the answer they were looking for and have spent the last year working with T2 to make their vision a reality.”
According to Dr. Mark Long, NMCPHC Public Health educator, the app contains resources available in the online version in a format optimized for mobile devices, allowing leaders to take it with them anywhere they go – deployments, training missions, or as a quick resource while on the go in port.
The Navy Leader’s Guide app is now available for download on iTunes and Google Play and can also be accessed from both the NMCPHC and T2 websites.
NavyNavStress would like to thank our partners at Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center’s Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) Department for submitting this guest blog to keep our audiences informed. For more HPW resources, visit http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcphc/health-promotion/Pages/default.aspx.
Selection board season can be the most anticipated – yet intimidating – time of the year for many Sailors. In January, about 20,000 first class Sailors took their advancement exams in preparation to be considered for chief. Now through October, thousands of Sailors will compete for advancement within their ratings and designators. Preparing your package and studying for examinations can be stressful by themselves—but since daily life doesn’t stop during selection board season, remember to exercise the 5 Principles of Resilience to maintain your own checks and balances, and thrive:
- Predictability. Align your expectations with results. Reflect on feedback received from your shipmates and leaders, and make certain your Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) is up-to-date. Remember that preparation is key. Set aside time in your schedule to review you OMPF as often as possible – even small efforts can yield positive gains.
- Controllability. You cannot always control an outcome, but you can control your response. Maintain a positive outlook and capitalize on opportunities to grow. Even some of the most famously successful people experienced setbacks on road to realizing their goals (check out this article for inspiration).
- Relationships. Lean on your shipmates for support, schedule time to speak with your leaders and confide in your family members. Refer back to your Stress Navigation Plan and reach out to the person or people in your support network that help you stay grounded.
- Trust. Trust yourself, your shipmates, your leadership, your chaplains and your Navy. Most importantly, trust that your dedication and perseverance are two of the reasons why you have achieved your goals thus far. You have a lot to take pride in outside of selection board results.
- Meaning. While advancement is the goal, don’t just think about your destination as the reward. The road to get there is just as important. Focus on your purpose and community. By understanding the mission, your role within the big picture will help build your resilience and strengthen readiness.
While we don’t often think of advancement in terms of transition, a lot can change following selection board results. New roles will test your leadership skills, while a pay increase may test your financial responsibility. Be proud of your achievement, but don’t hesitate to reach out to a shipmate, superior, or professional for advice or resources for navigating stress that may be unfamiliar to you.
For information on the selection board process and how to prepare for it, read Your Record is Available Online – Prepare Early for Selection Boards.
** Detailed information can be found in NAVADMIN 288/13 for active component/FTS/CANREC and NAVADMIN 306/13 for SELRES and under the “Boards” tab available at www.npc.navy.mil.
Transitions are an inevitable part of life, especially for Sailors. Even the most anticipated transitions can bring about as much stress and fear as they do excitement (recall your first months in the Navy or the birth of a child). Transitions encompass everything from a leadership change, to marriage, divorce/break-ups, Permanent Change of Station, deployment, and retirement/separation from service. Each of these situations presents an opportunity to adapt to new circumstances, building resilience. Yet they may also interfere with your usual strategies for navigating stress.
You may be leaving your support network including friends, shipmates and leaders that you’ve come to trust and confide in, or feel like you’re going to be outside of your comfort zone in a new environment or phase of life. Maybe your upcoming transition will impact your finances or time management, or maybe you’re facing a major lifestyle change by leaving a geographic area that particularly suited your family’s needs. Even with smaller transitions, like career advancement, your existing fitness and wellness routines may be disrupted (including diet and nutrition). Regardless of the type of transition, recognizing that life will be different can be overwhelming at times, particularly when you encounter an unfamiliar situation or are managing multiple changes. It’s important to step back and evaluate how you can set yourself up for success in any situation. The 5 Principles of Resilience (Predictability, Controllability, Relationships, Trust and Meaning) can help you, your family and your command be more prepared, manage expectations, stay connected—and thrive.
In the upcoming weeks as a part of our NavyTHRIVE campaign, we’ll be discussing ways that Sailors, leaders and families can successfully navigate the various transitions that may be encountered during a Navy career (including the transition between a Navy and civilian career). We’ll also address how to recognize and assist a shipmate who is having difficulty navigating change, intervening before their struggles escalate into a life or emotional crisis. One critical key to success is a supportive command climate, with cohesion and open communication.
Stay tuned for our next post in the “What’s Next? Navigating Transitions” series when we discuss how to leverage Predictability and Controllability to help you make your next move your best move. Until then, remember “what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” —Richard Bach
This post originally appeared in LifeLink, the Navy Suicide Prevention Program Newsletter. To subscribe to this monthly publication, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the LifeLink Newsletter webpage.
Over the past few months, the Navy Operational Stress Control team has provided a variety of resources to help Sailors and families Thrive during the Holidays. While many of those resources were geared toward navigating the stress of the holiday season, the heart of each is applicable all year long—from seeking to have better control of your budget, to strengthening relationships or committing to healthier living. Don’t let your efforts to thrive fall by the wayside (like so many New Year’s resolutions do). Reflect on the strategies that worked best for you and try to incorporate them into your daily life and routines in 2014. Empower yourself to take control of stress proactively so that you can enjoy all that life has to offer. Challenges may emerge, but with a strong sense of self, the support of your community, and guidance from the Five Principles of Resilience, you can make 2014 your best year yet.
If you find yourself in need of something to make you smile this year, take a look at these wonderful coloring page submissions from our NORAD Tracks Santa collaboration (artists ranging from ages 1 to 35!). Here’s a recap of our Thrive during the Holidays blog posts and Navy.mil stories:
“Navy Announces New Holiday Stress Navigation Campaign, ‘Thrive During the Holidays’”
“Food Savvy for the Holidays”
“Spring forward, fall back and THRIVE”
“Taking the Stress Out of the Holidays while your Spouse is Deployed”
“Helping Navy Families Thrive During Deployment”
“Thank Your Body this Thanksgiving”
“Thankful to Serve Those Who Serve”
“Balance Your Holiday Spending”
“Unwrap Some New Tools this Holiday Season”
“December is Impaired Driving Month”
“Sailors and Families Track Santa”
“Getting Ahead of the Humbugs “
“Comfort Foods Can be Healthy, too”
“Resolving to THRIVE in the New Year”
“The Credit Card Statements Are In…Now What?”
Stay tuned for more from our NavyTHRIVE campaign in 2014! In the meantime, check out the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center’s NavyTHRIVE infographic.
Navy Operational Stress Control would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our guest bloggers who contributed to the “Thrive during the Holidays” campaign. We appreciate your continued support.