Commentary: Eustress, Distress, What’s stress?

Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. --

Let’s be honest, despite our best planning, our best day never goes exactly as planned. Life throws us curves when we least expect it. Our response to those stressors show our resilience and true strength of character.

You may be asking yourself, “How do I manage stress if things happen unexpectedly?” The answer to that question is rather simple. Though we cannot control what, when or why things happen, we can control our responses to those unexpected situations by ensuring we are mentally resilient.

Stress is generally regarded as a negative when in truth it can be quite useful for our personal development.

Distress or bad stress like an injury that forces early retirement or losing a loved one are generally the type of stressors we, as humans, focus on. Getting promoted or a long-term partner popping the big question generally are not considered stressful-however, those exciting life events can be viewed as eustress or good stress.

A proper balance of both distress and eustress can promote our overall health and wellness.

The Air Force defines resilience as the ability to withstand, recover and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands. As an Airmen, it is our duty to maintain situational awareness not just in our surroundings but also in our lives.

Coping with stressors and adapting to changing demands can be difficult, but it is easiest when we are proactive about decisions concerning the many moving pieces of life.

Ultimately, approaching distress or eustress with positive thinking enhances our mental resiliency and our ability to cope when the unexpected happens. As a wingman, you can do your part by ensuring you are taking care of your fellow Airmen whether in uniform or not.

If you know someone is having a rough time, extend a hand, to help or an ear to listen. Talking can be therapeutic, but it is important to understand that each coping method will not work for everyone.

Other ideas for coping could be working out, a cookout with friends and family, or a road trip. There are a ton of ways to cope with stress, the key is finding the methods that work best for you, and consistently engaging in those activities as a form of relaxation and release.

The most important aspect of stress management and mental resiliency is acknowledging that asking for assistance is the ultimate sign of strength.

If you feel you or a wingmen could use some extra assistance gaining a sense of control, there are resources like the Mental Health Clinic, Behavioral Health Optimization Program located in the Family Health Clinic, the Chaplain and Military Family Life Consultants at the Airman and Family Readiness Center who are readily available to help. These resources are available to provide education, counseling services, and other forms of assistance.

In emergency situations, dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255.