Adjusting to change can be stressful

  • Published
  • By Gary Garland
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Most individuals encounter major change at some point in their lives, both in their private lives as well as in their work environment. While serving our military, most of us go through many more changes than the average person.

A new marriage, the birth of a child or other changes in the family structure can cause stress on both emotional and financial fronts.

As military members, we have the additional challenge of frequent moves, new schools, new friends, new environments and for many, farther distances from extended family. As if that wasn't stressful enough, we take on stress at work too. New assignments, deployments, Reduction in Force boards and Force Shaping, reorganization and new tools are part of the daily stressors that hover over our military member's heads.

One of the key things about stress is how you react to it. Are you proactive; anticipating change and preparing for it? Are you reactive, hurrying to get your feet under you after the event? Or are you flat out resistant?
Being proactive is ideal in changing situations. Getting yourself mentally and physically prepared can help tremendously. Evaluating the potential changes and outcomes will help you be ready when the time comes. Sit down and plot out what you would like to do based on the possible resulting situations. The solution may need to be modified when the time comes, but having a game plan will help you to react in a more level headed manner.

If you are instigating the change, there are several things you can do to help those affected adjust to the new situation.

- Plan ahead. Prior to making the change, start to survey in order to see what kind of response you might receive from those around you. If you identify potential problems, be prepared to counteract the issues. When instituting change, share your vision. Giving ownership of the vision to those that you lead will promote teamwork and reduce stress.

- Be prepared to provide any education and training that may be required. Lastly, be consistent with your message. Once you've made the change, stick to it. Going back and forth will only create additional stress and confusion. As an individual, what can you do to help manage change? The most important thing is to find ways to reduce your stress in the situation.

- Be proactive. Again, planning ahead will alleviate a good portion of your stress. Keep a good attitude about the situation. Not only will this help you, but it will help the spirits of those around you. Look for support from others or seek out a mentor to help you through these changes. There are many resources on base that are available to you that help reduce your overall stress levels and being physically fit helps tremendously as well.

- Take up a sport or physical activity, such as running, biking or swimming. The base Samurai Fitness Center has several athletic programs for individuals and teams that will get you moving.

- Relax. Spend time with your family, take a leisurely walk, take up a new hobby, join a club or just get a massage.

- Take the time to step away from the stressors in your life and have some personal time. This will help you to gain some perspective on the situation.

- Talk to someone. The base has many organizations and resources that are here to support you or find someone that you can identify with and make them a mentor. Talking the situation through and seeking help and support will provide needed extra comfort.

- Get educated and trained. Visit any of the education and training facilities on base to help adjust to change. Work on your degree, study Japanese, learn new computer skills or study things that have always interested you.

All of these activities will help you be prepared and be proactive in your response to change.