86th Medical Group highlights Mental Health Awareness Month

by Carmen Schott
Ramstein Family Advocacy

When we hear that May is Mental Health Awareness Month, some of us might immediately think about reducing depression, decreasing suicides, managing anxiety or reducing the level of stress for ourselves and our loved ones. In my opinion, it is aimed at bringing attention to the important topic of resiliency. The definition of resiliency is “the ability to recover quickly from illness, change or misfortune.” Being able to overcome adversity and difficult times is the key to wellness.

Being resilient has to do with taking care of ourselves. If we do not take care of our own health, emotional state and stress level, then we are not able to truly take care of others in our lives. This is especially true for mental health professionals, first sergeants and commanders. Taking time for ourselves and nurturing our own needs will only improve our capacity to encourage resilience in our co-workers, friends and Airmen. At some time in our lives we will face change; we will meet challenges and experience health problems. These are things that each and every one of us will experience at some time in our lives. It is important to remember that we are all playing the same game — the game of life. The things that make it easier for individuals to bounce back are the types of resiliency skills that they have learned. It has a great impact on the ability to recover.

It is important to look at the five pillars of wellness. The body-mind-spirit connection and the balancing of these will create greater resiliency within us and in others.

The first pillar is the physical domain. When we eat healthy, take time to exercise, get a massage, go for a walk, ride our bikes and get enough sleep at night, then we are nurturing the physical side.

The second pillar is the mental domain. When we take time to concentrate, journal our ideas, make lists of things we have to do, set future goals for our career and find time to let our mind rest, then we are nurturing the mental side.

The third pillar is the social domain. When we spend time with our families, when we receive affection from our children, when we attend groups and support services in the community, and when we express ourselves with other people, we are nurturing the social side of life.

The fourth pillar is the spiritual domain. The spiritual domain might involve attending church, but it becomes deeper than that. The spiritual domain is nurtured by spending time in meditation and prayer, sitting in silence, having a good belly laugh, watching a beautiful sunset, climbing up the Zugspitze and enjoying the beautiful view, and, most importantly, looking within. Nurturing your inner self and inner world and finding ways to bring inner peace and contentment are all ways to nurture the spiritual side of life.

The fifth pillar is the individual. The individual is the middle pillar, learning to balance the four other pillars around themselves. We must find ways to be resilient in times of stress, misfortune or heartache. The individual is responsible for balancing the different areas of wellness. The individual is the central, most important piece of the puzzle.

During the month of May, remember the important part that we all play in the health and wellness of ourselves and our community members. There are many helping agencies on base that offer wonderful educational classes and support services. The supporting agencies are here to help lift up the individual within the pillars and to provide resources to help them balance all areas of wellness.

When you feel stressed or overwhelmed by change, remember that you are not alone. Ramstein Mental Health and all the IDS agencies are here to assist each member in this community. They are here to encourage resiliency and to promote the strength to overcome any adversity. Together and as a team we need to lift each other up and focus on healing what needs to be healed during the month of May.