For some, all types of fitness may take a backseat during the holiday season, but the Air Force Reserve wants to keep readiness in focus.
Reserve Citizen Airmen should consciously practice self-care, and one way to strengthen well-being and prepare for life’s troubles is to ensure the four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness are strong.
“Resiliency is the ability to know what to do and when to do it when you need something — mentally, socially, spiritually, and physically,” said Daniel Pickel, 433rd Airlift Wing director of psychological health.
Chaplain (Maj.) Randy J. Holloway, 433rd Airlift Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, explained the pillars in more detail: Physical fitness is taking care of the body. Mental health needs to be promoted and maintained. Spiritual fitness is knowing what people believe, whatever it is, helps make them who they are and can be used as a source of meaning and resiliency. Social fitness requires maintaining connections.
This time of year can be especially hard for some people as they are surrounded by apparent holiday cheer but feel alone, Holloway said.
“One of the red flags we always look for as a chaplain is isolation,” Holloway said about social fitness. “When we withdraw and feel alone and cut-off, we can really start to get discouraged and lonely, and that’s when problems start to seem overwhelming with a downward spiral to discouragement and depression.”
It can be hard to reach out when those feelings overwhelm, but that’s one of the important features of resiliency — knowing when to ask for help.
“We still have an atmosphere of fear sometimes to seek out help,” Pickel said. “We want to keep the best of the best that we have, but we also know that nobody is perfect, and you’re going to have bad days. We teach people resiliency for that — to give them the skills and tools for how to deal with things and to know they can reach out to somebody.”
No one needs to have all the answers or be able to fix the problem if a friend or coworker does reach out, said Holloway. They just need to realize how important it can be to attentively and actively listen to what he or she is going through.
Fortunately, the Alamo Wing does a good job of maintaining their people with a culture that values wingmanship, Pickel said.
“Recognizing that the mission this reserve unit has is critical to what the Air Force does, and having people understand they are by far our best asset. We’ve got a great unit and the resiliency they’ve built and continued to build within the Airmen we have is fantastic. There’s nobody here who isn’t here to help you,” Pickel added.