National Stress Awareness Day

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kailee Reynolds
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

National Stress Awareness Day is observed annually on April 16. As we commemorate this day, it's essential to acknowledge the unique challenges faced by military members and their families in dealing with stress.  

The demanding nature of military service often exposes individuals and families to intense pressures that can impact physical, emotional and mental well-being.  

“Frequent deployments, extended separations, inconsistent work schedules, and exposure to potentially traumatic events can contribute to heightened stress levels within the military community,” said Maj. Stephen Hughes, 47th Medical Group (MDG) mental health flight commander. “Recognizing the signs of stress is crucial for both military members and their families. Common symptoms include persistent anxiety, difficulty sleeping, irritability, physical symptoms like headaches and social withdrawal.” 

For service members, seeking support from peers, commanders, chaplains, or mental health professionals is paramount. Establishing a daily routine, engaging in regular physical activity, practicing relaxation techniques, and setting realistic goals can all help manage stress effectively. 

“The career of a firefighter can be really stressful, especially when we are responding to calls any time of the day or night,” said Airman 1st Class Brayden Hess, 47th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) firefighter. “I find ways to manage my stress through physical activity and going outside. Getting sunlight and exercise are a huge help for me.” 

Military families also face unique stressors and can benefit from targeted support. Open communication within the family, accessing military support services, connecting with other military families, and prioritizing self-care are vital strategies for coping. 

“My family and I find ways to manage stress through communication and support from each other, friends and family,” said Senior Airman William Shupe, 47th CES firefighter. “It can be hard on the family when you are away for two days at a time, so me and my wife like to connect with others during these times.” 

Breaking down the stigma associated with seeking help for stress is essential. Normalizing discussions around stress and mental health within the military community can encourage individuals to seek support without fear of judgment. 

“We need to cherish the moments spent between duty days, whether it’s by ourselves, with our friends or with our loved ones,” said Tech. Sgt. Erin Barriga, 47th MDG mental health flight chief. “Don’t succumb to the monotony of staying late, those tasks will still be there when we come in tomorrow, on Monday, while we are on leave, or when we execute a Permanent Change of Station.” 

On this Stress Awareness Day, the commitment to fostering a culture of understanding and support within the military community is crucial. By recognizing the signs of stress, implementing effective coping strategies and breaking down stigma, military members and their families can feel empowered to navigate the challenges of military life with resilience and strength. 

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