Manage stress for overall health

When I was younger, I used to watch the animated movie “Anastasia” with almost no reprieve. It got to the point where I could quote most of it, and I would. One of my favorite lines happened as the antagonist, Rasputin, was giving in to his frustration and starting to tear his Limbo-weakened body apart. His little sidekick, Bartok, followed Rasputin around in a near futile effort to put him back together while muttering, “Stress: It’s a killer.” Ironically, I probably repeated that line to my parents enough to permanently stress them out. Little did I know, however, that I was learning some very sage wisdom from a talking bat in a Disney movie.

There is no universal definition of stress; some disciplines recognize it as a biological response to adverse stimuli while others avoid a value judgement altogether by identifying stress as the interaction between a person and their environment. In some respects, stress is in the eye of the beholder. A wedding, a new baby, and a career change can all be positive or negative stressors depending on the perception of the individual. What really matters is how we deal with the stress, because, as Bartok so astutely pointed out, stress is a killer if it goes unchecked. It wreaks physiological and emotional havoc when it’s allowed to persist.

In addition to individual ramifications, untended stress can greatly impact those around us — namely our Family members. Financial struggles start bigger arguments that can get out of hand quickly if coping skills are not part of our muscle memory. This is why the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Family Advocacy Program is urging our community members to take the month of October, which is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and make stress relief a normal part of the Family battle rhythm. Get to the fitness center for a workout; exercise boosts endorphins and melts stress. Give yourself a night out — as a couple or just for you — and let a babysitter suffer the relentless onslaught of Disney Jr. in your stead. Perhaps most importantly, know your resources, and don’t hesitate to use them. If finances are stressing you out, come to ACS and get linked up with AER or Financial Readiness. Thinking of throwing the computer out the window with one more USA Jobs automated rejection? Take a resume writing class or a USA Jobs class with the Employment Readiness Program. Sometimes just getting out of the house and connecting with others can help mitigate stress; come to Newborn Network with your infants on Wednesdays or Play Mornings with your toddlers on Fridays, both from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at New Parent Support, and build social connections for yourself and your children. And don’t forget to swing through the Family Advocacy Program for a quick class on stress management. All ACS resources can be reached by contacting (0611) 143-548-9201/9202.

The Army’s message for Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2017 is to see the signs, avoid the hazard, and address problems early. Effective stress management is a great way to handle problems at the lowest level. Know your stressors, know how to productively manage your stress, and keep your body, mind and relationships healthy.