Tag Archives: Stress Continuum

New Training Helps Families Navigate Stress and Stay in the Green Zone

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Stress is characteristic of service in the Navy, with deployments, reintegration, and relocations causing tension for both Sailors and their families. The ability to efficiently navigate stress and build resilience is an integral part of maintaining mission readiness for Sailors and promoting psychological well-being. In addition to the stressors associated with military life, Navy families also deal with typical family stressors: raising children, maintaining their home, dealing with teenagers and handling conflicts with a spouse.

April is National Stress Awareness Month, and being cognizant of your stressors is essential. Stress can be helpful when it pushes us to make improvements in our lives. It can remind us of the importance of reaching out to others for support and helps us build resilience by growing and bouncing back from challenges. Adequately addressing stressors helps prevent chronic and prolonged exposure to stress and its adverse impacts on our health and overall well-being. Navy families now have a new training available from the Operational Stress Control (OSC) Program which offers numerous tools and resources to help Sailors and their families navigate stress and build resilience during and beyond the rigors of military life. This new training addresses the impact that stressors have on Navy families, focusing on challenges faced by Navy spouses, and their children with tips on how to navigate them.

The Navigating Stress for Navy Families training emerged from needs directly expressed by Sailors and commanders. The new Navy Family Framework recognizes the importance of integrating Navy spouses and families into education, awareness and support services and understands the role that they play as part of the Navy community. The Navigating Stress for Navy Families training is aligned with this framework, acknowledging that family readiness is key to mission readiness. The training is provided by veteran OSC Mobile Training Teams (MTTs) who have experienced similar challenges in military life. The training is modeled after OSC-required trainings for deck plate and senior leaders that are also delivered by these MTTs.

The course is an hour-long interactive conversation that provides useful and practical tools and techniques to families by introducing realistic scenarios. The course aims to improve families’ ability to navigate stress together by:

  • Helping to strengthen spouses, Sailors and, families;
  • Identifying problems with stress early;
  • Identifying best practices and further developing skills for building resilience and stress mitigation; and
  • Identifying available resources to help with stress issues.

Early identification of stress problems is vital. The Stress Continuum Model, depicted in the above thermometer graphic for quick reference, helps Sailors and their families readily pinpoint their stress “zone” so that they can take appropriate action, such as talking to a trusted friend when reacting to temporary stress. The earlier a Navy family identifies where they are within the Stress Continuum, the easier it is to bounce back. The goal is not to be 100% stress-free – as that is nearly impossible – but to learn how to build resilience so that stressors do not immediately move a family into the Red Zone. Sufficient sleep, open communication with loved ones, self-care and early help-seeking, are all ways to navigate stress healthily and lessen the risk of stress injury or illness.

Navigating Stress for Navy Families is currently available via in-person training. OSC and Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) are working to develop a webinar format for the course as well. For more information or to schedule training, email oscmtteast@navy.mil or oscmttwest@navy.mil. Additional OSC resources including educational materials, policy and curricula descriptions can be found on the program’s website.

Follow OSC and the Every Sailor, Every Day campaign on Facebook and Twitter for daily tips, tricks and small acts to help you and your family stay in or get back to the Green.

Stress Reduction Techniques for High-Stress Operations

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Editor’s Note: The following is a guest blog provided courtesy of the Real Warriors Campaign. Navy Suicide Prevention Branch is a proud partner of the Real Warriors Campaign. To learn more, visit www.realwarriors.net.

Any role in the military can be stressful. However, for those like special operators, explosive ordinance technicians, submariners, aviators and others, stress is a significant part of the job. The extreme stress faced by these warriors, and others, can lead to psychological health concerns.

Recent research focusing on special operations forces (SOF) highlights the risks faced by service members working in any high-stress role. Heavy physical, mental and emotional strain can lead to psychological health concerns. These can include depression, anxiety or posttraumatic stress disorder.

It is important for all warriors to learn stress-management techniques. Stress can cause anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, irritability, heavy drinking or other concerns. If you experience any of these symptoms, or have other concerns, talk to a health care provider now. Your provider can address your concerns and help you develop a stress-management plan. Getting care early helps you stay mission ready. It also avoids new or worsening symptoms.

The Effects of Stress on SOF

SOF personnel are an example of service members supporting high-stress operations. The nature of their work is sensitive, and they make frequent deployments, often on short notice. They have strong resilience skills because of SOF selection screenings and their follow-on training. However, they aren’t immune to the effects of high-stress operations. In one survey about twice as many members of SOF units reported symptoms associated with PTSD when compared to members of conventional units.

Others, like drone pilots, face similar stressors. Executing critical missions, dealing with life-and-death decisions and safeguarding classified information all adds up. That makes robust skills for managing stress crucial if you’re in these types of roles.

Skills That Aid Job Performance Under High Stress

The ability to perform under high stress is critical to mission readiness. Service members, like special operators, use stress inoculation training to stay focused and effective when the going gets tough. This type of training teaches you skills to manage stress responses at critical times by:

  • Controlling emotions. Reduce negative thinking and fear. This avoids distracting thoughts during a critical mission.
  • Calming physical reactions to stress. Use regular, slow breathing from your diaphragm and progressive muscle relaxation. This reduces your heart rate and anxiety.
  • Training with repetition. Repeat tasks that require a consistent response until you can do them on autopilot.
  • Visualizing tasks. Envision successfully using your skills in action right before you need them.
  • Learning prioritization. Order tasks to deal with information overload and manage multiple high-priority assignments at the same time.
  • Building team skills. Communicate, give constructive feedback, coordinate group efforts and ask for help when needed.

Additional skills woven into service-specific trainings for high-stress operations include:

  • Goal-setting
  • Persistence
  • Situational awareness
  • Attentional conditioning
  • Muscle control

Stress Reduction Techniques

All warriors with high-stress jobs can benefit from basic stress-reduction techniques. To reduce stress:

  • Exercise regularly. Cardio and strength training reduce stress levels and keep you mission ready.
  • Get good sleep. Poor sleep or not enough sleep has a significant negative impact on wellbeing.
  • Eat healthy. A good diet helps keep your body and mind in shape.
  • Participate in relaxing activities. Breathing-based meditation and yoga, for example, can improve symptoms and reduce anxiety.
  • Stay connected. The support of friends and family improves psychological health when facing stress.

Remember, reaching out is a sign of strength. If you or a loved one needs additional support, contact the Psychological Health Resource Center 24/7 to confidentially speak with trained health resource consultants, call 866-966-1020 or use the Real Warriors Live Chat. You can also visit our “Seek Help, Find Care” page to see a list of key psychological health resources.

Additional Resources:

Stress Awareness Month: Know Your Zone

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Operational stress is the process of responding to the challenges of Navy life, as well as the direct and indirect challenges associated with Navy operations—and Sailors aren’t the only ones who feel its effects! Frequent moves, lengthy deployments, reintegration and tough missions—coupled with the daily churn of home life—can lead to operational stress for the entire family. Some stress is good; helping us better respond to challenges, build resilience and promote family togetherness. However, exposure to prolonged or extreme stress can negatively impact health, performance and relationships.

April is National Stress Awareness Month and there’s no better time for you and your family to check in with each other— and yourselves. The Operational Stress Control (OSC) program’s Stress Continuum Model can help Sailors, families and commands identify stress reactions and guide appropriate action based on four color-coded zones: Green (Ready), Yellow ( Reacting), Orange (Injured) and Red (Ill).

The Green Zone represents readiness and personal well-being. While you may not be stress free, if you’re feeling on top of things, are functioning optimally and have an overall positive attitude, you’re likely in the Green. While you’re here:

The Yellow Zone represents normal, expected and predictable reactions to temporary and mild distress. While it may sound ideal to want to “stay in the Green,” at any given time in your life you will oscillate between Green and Yellow—and that’s how you build resilience. Yellow Zone stress reactions are like a tree branch bending in the wind—still capable of springing back in place when the wind calms. While you may experience some changes to daily function, including trouble sleeping and reduced concentration, serious and persistent dysfunction do not characterize Yellow Zone stress. To return to the Green:

  • Practice self-care, such as active relaxation, exercise and “saying no” to overloading yourself with activities that may contribute to stress;
  • Talk with your spouse, partner or friends. Having a Stress Navigation Plan can help you readily identify who you can turn to when facing challenges; and
  • Explore resources available through your local Fleet & Family Support Center and/or Military OneSource.

The Orange Zone indicates injury resulting from severe or prolonged exposure to stress. Social withdrawal; inability to enjoy daily activities; and intense or uncontrollable guilt, shame or emotion may characterize an Orange Zone stress injury. Think of it like the tree branch breaking because it was bent beyond its limits by the wind. While stress injuries usually heal over time, if left untreated, they may progress into more serious physical and/or psychological health impacts. To promote recovery:

  • Seek guidance from medical professionals or confidential support from a Navy chaplain. The Military Crisis Line also offers 24/7 confidential support for military family members. Dial 1-800-273-TALK (Option 1), text 838255 from your mobile device or visit militarycrisisline.net;
  • Communicate with your spouse, partner or a family member to harness support and promote emotional safety; and
  • Practice self-care as outlined above. Set goals to get back to the Green.

Severe distress that persists or worsens and leads to a loss of function characterizes the Red Zone. While only a medical or psychological health professional can diagnose a Red Zone illness, it is important to recognize what steps to take to get appropriate care. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength.

  • If danger is imminent, contact 911.
  • Seek medical treatment. Ask a trusted friend or family member to accompany you.
  • Follow the treatment plan outlined by your provider.

Navy’s Operational Stress Control Program has tools and resources to help you navigate stress and build resilience during and beyond the rigors of military life. Follow OSC online for daily tips, tricks and small acts to help you and your family stay in or get back to the Green.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/navstress
Twitter: www.twitter.com/navstress
Website: http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/support/21st_Century_Sailor/osc/Pages/default.aspx

 

10 Ways to Reduce Back to School Stress

It’s hard to believe the new school year is starting soon. While transitioning to a new schedule can be very stressful, it can also be an opportunity to make wanted changes to routines and avoid last year’s pitfalls.

Here are some tips sure to save time, money and help you navigate the stress of heading back to school!

1.  Create a folder for important paperwork.  School registration requirements can be formidable, so start gathering the documentation you’ll need now. Check the school website – many schools now offer registration forms online that can be printed and filled out at home, saving you time and trouble.  Put paperwork in a folder for each child. Items you might need to include: shot records, birth certificates, a utility bill for address verification, mortgage paperwork or lease agreement or annual physical exams for sport participation. Keeping everything in one place will help reduce your stress by avoiding a return trip to your child’s school.

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Welcome to the Operational Stress Control blog

U.S. Navy Capt. Lori A. Laraway, Coordinator, Navy’s Operational Stress Control (OSC) Program

Thank you for visiting the Navy’s Operational Stress Control Blog.  We want to find ways to reach you, our Sailors, family members and commands with the type of information you need to become more resilient. This blog is just one way to link you with tools and resources we think are helpful and to get your reactions to our efforts.

One of OSC’s goals is to help you improve your ability to prepare for, recover from and adjust to life in the face of stress, adversity or trauma.  In other words, have the ability to bounce back from stressful times.  To do that, we are working with a host of other Navy organizations to deliver to you the most up-to-date information about stress, its effects and the best ways to make sure it doesn’t become a problem in your life.

Navigating stress is what we call the process of effectively dealing with both day–to-day and extraordinary challenges.  We want you to be able to identify stressors in your life and know how to navigate through them to become stronger and more resilient.

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