Members encouraged to stay fit-to-fight during National Emotional Wellness Month
By Ashley Palacios, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs
/ Published October 25, 2016
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Emotional wellness, which often carries a negative stigma, encompasses a wide variety of skills such as a proactive, instead of a reactive, approach to life, the ability to remain calm while facing adversity, remaining nonjudgmental of others and yourself, and even being able to express your feelings in a healthy and assertive way.
“A common misconception of emotional health is that a person with emotional health is always happy or positive,” said Gina Ramirez, 359th Medical Group Mental Health Office outreach and resiliency coordinator.
“Life has its peaks and valleys. There is never a constant state of joy. It’s in our reactions to life that we discover who we truly are,” she said. “No one is perfect, but in practicing healthy behaviors we begin to move toward positive behavior.”
Another common misconception about emotional wellness is that it’s a weakness to seek out help.
“Seeking out help is actually a strength,” Ramirez said. “The weakness is in lack of self-awareness.”
“Military members may be concerned the mental health visit will go onto their record and affect their career,” she said. “Like a medical appointment, it does go into their record, however, the percentage of people whose careers are negatively affected by mental health is slim.”
The negative impact comes from waiting to seek help and spiraling downward, Ramirez said. This spiral is what effects job performance, the mission and ultimately the active duty member’s career.
While there are several reasons people aren’t more proactive with their emotional well-being, Ramirez believes the main reason may be getting caught in the “busyness” of life.
“We live in this constant tension between productivity and well being,” Ramirez said. “It’s easy to get caught up in taking care of the everyday tasks and putting ourselves last on the priority list. When we do that, we end up with an emotional bank that’s depleted. But when we put ourselves first on the list, we end up with an emotional bank that’s full.”
“We’re then able to take care of those urgent tasks without feeling spent and able to build those vital relationships,” she continued.
Understanding the mind-body-behavior connection is also critical to emotional well-being.
“Controlling our mind and feelings goes a long way in emotional health,” Ramirez said.
“Taking care of yourself touches on each domain of the Comprehensive Airman Fitness Model. If small, positive steps in each domain can be taken before something becomes a major issue, it will make a huge impact in Airmen’s long-term emotional well-being,” she added.
Some signs Airmen may need to seek help include difficulty in coping with the day-to-day, impulsive mood swings, excessive sadness or worry, thoughts of hurting oneself or others, and using food, alcohol or drugs to numb the pain.
Ramirez stressed the importance of Airmen getting involved with the events on base and taking a proactive approach to their emotional health.
“We all go through seasons and changes in life that take a greater toll on our emotional well-being,” Ramirez said. “Deployments, a permanant change of station, a new job, the birth of a new baby and a death in the family, but there are several things Airmen can do to take a proactive approach to their emotional well-being.”
Family Advocacy, Mental Health, Military & Family Readiness Center and the chaplain’s office are a few of the agencies across Joint Base San Antonio with resources to help Airmen maintain a healthy mind-body-behavior connection, she said.
“The 5K’s, Life Skills classes, theme months and the workshops offered around base are all valuable resources Airmen and their families can take advantage of,” she added.
It is important to recognize the role leadership plays in Airmen’s emotional well-being, Ramirez said.
“When you know what your Airmen are going through, you can ask questions when something doesn’t seem right,” she said. “Also, encouraging your people to take care of themselves by allowing them to take physical training time and creating an atmosphere where your people feel valued and respected is vital to helping your Airmen stay emotionally and physically fit for duty.”
To learn more about ways you can be proactive in your emotional well-being, contact the 359th MDG Mental Health Office at 652-2448.