Category Archives: OSC

A Closer Look at Resilience

Though it may seem as though the broad application of “resilience” relegates the term to a mere buzzword, the opposite is true. Resilience is defined—and built—by a multitude of influential factors coming together to increase one’s “capacity to withstand, recover, grow and adapt in the face of stressors and changing demands.” Moreover, there are overarching areas that can help us build, sustain and reinforce resilience whether we’re exposed to adversity or are enjoying calm waters. Our minds, bodies, social experiences and spiritual connections are all vital to our resilience. Here’s a closer look:

Mind: Our minds are the centers of our emotional and cognitive capacity to prepare for or respond to challenges. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “your outlook determines your outcome,” that speaks to the exceptional abilities our minds have to frame situations, think through them, and adapt positively. If you have a hard time “finding the silver lining,” check out these tips to help you “Reframe your ‘thinking traps’ for peak performance.”

Body: Stress and our responses to it are linked to a multitude of chronic physical health problems. The good news is that by taking care of your body, you can improve both mental and physical wellness. Healthy behaviors, including physical activity, balanced nutrition and adequate sleep build our resilience from the inside out. Get the facts on “Minding Your Health” here.

Social: The connections we share with others are important to our overall well-being, contributing to positive problem-solving skills even when we don’t feel stressed out. Connections with our peers, community and environment are protective factors that have been proven to help lower susceptibility to the negative effects of stress. Additionally, by helping others through their challenges, we gain a renewed sense of purpose and strengthen our own resilience. Here’s a great example of this mutual benefit.

Spiritual: Whether you practice a particular faith or religion, or find meaningful connections in other ways, your spirituality serves as the lens from which you see and interact with the world around you. It provides a trusted set of values and ethics, helping you find meaning in life’s challenges and triumphs. Check out this article from Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control for more on spirituality and resilience.

Resilience doesn’t just evolve from prior hardships.In fact, it can be built proactively by using everyday wellness to strengthen coping skills. Don’t wait until you’re facing a challenge to take a closer look at how you can make small improvements in these four areas to be ready and thrive.

What’s Your Plan to Navigate Stress?

As the days get longer and warmer and summer excitement begins, safety will be a critical focus—from preventing mishaps in swimming pools and outdoor grilling dangers, to preventing fatigued driving during summer road trips. Naval Safety Center’s “Live to Play, Play to Live” campaign is in full-swing, with severalsnp Navy programs engaging to ensure that the entire community enjoys the next 101 days of summer safely and responsibly.

While planning for physical safety helps minimize risk for yourself and those around you, emotional safety and wellbeing is an equally important part of the equation to keep you healthy and mission-ready. We may not know when we’ll encounter adversity, but by identifying positive resources that we can turn to during life’s inevitable challenges we can help prepare ourselves for the unexpected, minimizing the risk of those challenges developing into crises. Just as you would program a sober buddy’s number in your phone to avoid getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, you should take a moment to proactively identify who you’d reach out to and what you will do when you encounter stress and adversity.

To help you explore and identify your resources for making healthy decisions during stressful times, take a moment to fill out your Stress Navigation Plan, downloadable on the Navy Suicide Prevention website here. This simple proactive tool helps you think about your current practices for navigating stress—from a tough day on the job, to financial setbacks or relationship issues—while you’re still emotionally healthy. In the process, you may come up with more positive ways to navigate stress than what you currently turn to and will have the names and numbers of those you trust when you need to talk things through. By writing your resources and practices down now, you’ll be more prepared during stressful situations and are empowering yourself to make positive choices to thrive during adversity, not just survive.

While you’re encouraged to share your Stress Navigation Plan with your closest friends, family or those who are listed in it, your plan doesn’t have to be shared with anyone. Keep it in a safe place (wallet, desk, glove compartment in your car) so that you can easily access it when the need arises. You can even take a picture of your plan and store it in your mobile phone, or save the phone numbers in your contacts list. This is a simple commitment to yourself to navigate stress safely and to remind yourself that seeking help—whether through a friend, peer, leader or professional resource—can help you emerge from adversity stronger and more resilient than before. Be sure to update your plan every few months so that you’re not just ready for stress during the 101 days of summer, but all year long.

Minding Your Health

Each May, America observes Mental Health Month, or National Mental Health Awareness Month, to promote understanding of the physical and psychological benefits associated with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Health isn’t merely the absence of a particular disease or disorder, and it’s not just a physical state. There is an unbreakable link between a healthy mind and overall wellness, adding truth to the old cliché “you only look as good as you feel.” The theme of this year’s Mental Health Month is “Minding Your Health,” encouraging everyone to assess their daily habits and coping strategies to take steps toward a healthy lifestyle.

A 2012 American Psychological Association report found that nearly seven in 10 Americans experience physical symptoms of stress including anger, fatigue, feeling overwhelmed, and disrupted sleeping habits. Additionally, the report states that while 60% of Americans have attempted to reduce their stress, only 37% believe they did so successfully. That’s where the benefits of healthy and active living come into play. Physical activity, proper nutrition, social connectedness, adequate sleep and responsible choices regarding alcohol use not only yield physical benefits, but can help promote recovery from stress and prevent it from leading to more serious conditions.

Stress is linked to a multitude of chronic health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and more. Exercise is one way to help beat the effects of stress while promoting long-term physical and mental health. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed by your increasing workload or agitated after long hours on the job, getting physically active can boost your mood and energy-level while improving overall wellness. Aerobic exercise, continuous and intense activity that stimulates oxygen intake and blood circulation, helps counter the effects of stress on your mind and body. Next time you’ve had a tough day, go for a run around the deck with a few shipmates, or ride your bike around base. The sense of calm and decrease in tension you may feel is the result of your body regulating stress hormones and releasing endorphins (natural stress-busters), enabled by the increased circulation from your aerobic adventure. Weight training (a form of anaerobic exercise) builds muscular strength and bone density, and boosts metabolism. By adding it to your regimen, you’re promoting long-term health—combatting obesity, heart disease and more—while building physical strength and a stronger mind.

Though exercise can help you unwind during stressful times, make it a daily habit to maximize mental and physical health benefits. You don’t need an elaborate gym to get active! Check out the latest tips from Navy Physical Readiness and the Active Living resources from Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center. Making small changes to your routines, like a short workout during lunchtime, will get you on the right track to stay mentally and physically fit.

Spring into Financial Success, Part 1

Stacy Livingstone-Hoyte, AFC®, is an experienced Financial Counselor who has worked extensively with U.S. Armed Forces members and families. She is a recent volunteer blogger for Navynavstress.com, but contributed previously while serving at the Fleet and Family Support Center, Millington, Tenn. Prior to government service, she worked as a Financial Services Representative for several brokerage and insurance firms. As a military spouse, Ms. Livingstone-Hoyte knows firsthand of the financial challenges and opportunities that face military families across the globe. To that end, she embraces a steadfast belief that financial success can be simple, just not easy.

With the recent passing of tax season and promise of warmer weather underway,130226-N-JP566-004 now is a great time to revisit your overall finances, develop a plan to use a possible tax return and spring into healthier spending and saving habits. With the countless books and articles available to inform, persuade and advise consumers about best practices for money management, charting a clear course to your financial future can end up being confusing. In this two-part series, we’ll take a broader approach to exploring how personal money habits and attitudes can influence the ways we experience and define financial readiness.  Here are the first three steps to help you define success without the stress:

1. Know your current financial position. You simply cannot progress to the next level of success without first knowing and understanding what your current financial position is and what it means. Whether favorable or not, understanding this essential point ensures that you understand the past and are motivated for the future.  Start by conducting a comprehensive budget analysis with items such as net worth, income and expenses (current and projected), household debt ratios, interest rates paid, etc. From there, adjusting your spending habits to what you earn (not above) is equally important. There are a number of free resources, particularly in the military community, that will help in this analysis.

2. Communication is key. Always. A financial plan is only as good as the effort given to follow it, so acceptance and trust from both you and your spouse is a must in making money decisions. This is absolutely critical to the success of your financial endeavors, so if you can’t agree on every detail, especially spending habits, consider a compromise to win over your reluctant financial partner.

3. Make a plan to eliminate consumer debt. One of the greatest threats to financial independence is debt in the form of credit cards, personal loans, vehicle loans, student loans and other interest-carrying instruments. Having a realistic plan to systematically erase each line item will truly be the platform for success, and you can start this by limiting blind credit card swipes and using cash only to cover simple transactions. You can also explore tools specifically-designed to help you create a repayment strategy based on available income, interest rates, pay-back period and comfort level. Although some amount of debt is unavoidable for most Americans, such as a mortgage, the general rule of thumb is to ensure that any consumer debt will contribute to your growing net worth. Once you’ve gotten a handle on your current financial situation, talk things out with your financial partner and be sure to establish a plan together, then come back for part two of our series to help you prepare for the future – the unexpected and the inevitable!

Alcohol’s Impact on your Ability to Navigate Stress

This month marks the first anniversary of Navy’s flagship responsible drinking campaign, Keep What You’ve Earned, and Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse KWYE_2Prevention wants to get a “pulse check” on how you believe attitudes and behaviors toward drinking in the Navy have changed since the campaign’s launch.

This may lead you to ask… what are your beliefs and attitudes when it comes to ‘popping a cold one’ at the end of a stressful day or week?

Some may think that having an extra beer or glass of wine to unwind from a stressful day or drinking excessively with friends at the end of a challenging week may seem like ways to ‘release,’ but the reality is that using alcohol to navigate stress can lead to a dangerous situation.

Not only does alcohol impact your physical health, but it can take a toll on your psychological and emotional wellness if consumed irresponsibly or in excess. Additionally, abusing alcohol in response to stress may spiral into social withdrawal, anger or rage, and decreased inhibitions—which may increase suicide risk.

Though alcohol may seem to help you loosen up, using it to navigate stress can lead to long term impacts on your physical and psychological health including addictive or destructive behavior. Stress induces the body’s “fight or flight” response, providing rapid energy in order to handle threats. Thus, when we’re unable to respond to these challenges adaptively, we may make unhealthy choices to ease the tension.

Instead of alcohol, utilize your sense of controllability to focus your body and mind on positive measures to counter stress. Physical activity can help your body re-regulate hormones to help you think clearly and unwind.If you enjoy the company of others, go for a run with a few shipmates or get in a good workout. Passive activities like listening to music, reading, and meditation can also produce a sense of calm so that you can refocus on positive solutions and regain a sense of control.

The bottom line is that alcohol will not help you decrease your stress level long-term. Rather it can jeopardize everything you’ve worked hard for, particularly if use turns into abuse, or you make just one irresponsible decision like getting behind the wheel after drinking. After all, You’ve Earned It, Don’t Waste It!

For tips on responsible drinking, click here. If you think you may be struggling with alcohol, contact your local Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program. To participate in the anonymous Keep What You’ve Earned survey, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KWYE.

Bonus: Click here to watch the latest Keep What You’ve Earned Profile on Senior Chief Brian Wenzel. Sharing your story is one everyday way we can build a sense of community and promote awareness.