by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
2/11/2013 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Would
it be surprising to find out that enlisted military personnel took the
top spot for having the most stressful job in America in 2013? Well,
don't be surprised, as holding the dubious distinction is not unusual.
According to an annual report published by a prominent internet job
site, enlisted military members are at the top when it comes to stress,
nearly maxing each of the 11 stress factors used to determine the
ranking. Those factors included areas such as hazards, travel, physical
demands, competitiveness, and risk to one's own life or to others.'
Although this may seem shocking, the fact isn't anything new; military
personnel have been given this distinction for years. What is new are
the ways to counteract the mental and emotional strains from such a
It all boils down to this, if one's mental resiliency is lackluster or unstable, daily stressors will take hold of their life.
By lacking resilience, you will more than likely succumb to the mental
pitfalls that keep you at risk. Those pitfalls can cause you to have a
pessimistic perspective, see problems as one-sided, feel victimized, and
choose unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol and drug abuse.
Eventually, no matter one's rank or reputation, everyone experiences the
ebbs and flows of life and will need help getting through them.
Two of the most important skills being taught in Department of Defense
resiliency programs are personal preparation and recognition techniques.
The ability to recognize "thinking traps" so that the proper measures
can be taken to head off negative or harmful reactions, ensures
readiness, an important element of mental fitness.
Tunnel vision, jumping to conclusions, personalizing and evaluating the
situation from an emotional perspective, are common traps military
members fall into.
It's natural to subconsciously resort to these mental crutches.
Remember, it's not the end of the world; this type of negative thinking
can become second nature. The brain is the most complex device in the
universe, and without proper conditioning it may automatically make
The first stride in mental condition is to always remember to step back
and analyze the situation; by doing so you will avoid irrational
emotional responses, tunnel vision and senseless reactions.
What is one's first reaction when cut off by another driver? Rage, agitation or feeling disrespected, right?
It's frivolous to dwell on such incidents, clear your emotional response
and move on. If the situation dictates action, your reasoned evaluation
will make it easier to take the appropriate action.
As mental anxiety and stress mount, remembering to analyze the situation
will help pinpoint the source of one's frustrations. One of the best
ways to identify the sources of stress is to analyze habits, attitudes
and excuses. Write them down and reflect on how these three things
dictate one's mental resiliency and toughness. What could have been done
differently to avoid any thinking traps? Maybe it's just time to
relieve some pent up stress and emotions.
The famous writer James Howell once said, "All work and no play makes
Jack a dull boy." It's a truth that results in mental health
professionals consistently prescribing the same stress relief
technique--make time for fun and relaxation.
Bottom line, whenever encountering an unfamiliar situation that affects
your mental, spiritual, social or physical wellbeing, never hesitate to
utilize the trained professionals the Air Force provides. The mental
health office, family advocacy, chapel, Health and Wellness Center or
Airman and Family Readiness Center are ready to help ensure one's mental
toughness and conditioning are paired with positive self-esteem and
coping skills. These professionals are available during challenging
times and will bolster one's ability to react to stress in a