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August Chaplain's Reflection

U.S. Air Force Capt. Christina Pittman, 169th Fighter Wing Chaplain at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, poses for her portrait, Jan. 13, 2014.   (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Christina Pittman, 169th Fighter Wing Chaplain at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, poses for her portrait, Jan. 13, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- "Stress makes me a mess: What to do with it before it does something to you."

Last month I attended a course at the Air Force Chaplain Corps College on Spiritual Care for Wounded Warriors. One block of time was spent on the awareness and danger signs of stress. What I found most fascinating was the fact that stress can affect my body long after the event passes. I thought about all the years where high stressors occurred in the same month or calendar year and how the aftermath of the events still sabotage my body. Maybe the same is true for you? If so, here are some helpful tips presented in the lecture from a pamphlet called Care Notes to guide you away from the harmful effects of stress:

· Find the major stressors in your life and record them. After the list is made, share it with God. Then with hope you both can tackle it one day at a time.

· Accept that a certain amount of change and crisis is an essential part of life. Honestly look at the list for stress from delayed decision due to fear of change. Some stresses motivate you to move forward and accomplish tasks.

· Identify how you can draw on your faith to deal with stress. Prayer, meditation or spiritual reading can lower stress much like a coping skill to slow your breathing and center your mind.

· Take time to see how the hand of God has been evident in your life. With a friend, count your blessings or hunt the good stuff in your life.

· Help manage your stress by reaching out to others. Giving help to others, helps lighten your load as purpose and hope flood in offering a sense of gratitude and heightened energy to cope with your own stress. [Care Note "Letting Faith Help You Handle Stress" by Judy Ball, Meinrad, In One Caring Place, Abbey Press, 2004.]

The lecture encouraged me to be proactive in decreasing stress in my life. Will you try this list to get a handle on your stress before the long term effects get a handle on you? You may be surprised you have nothing to lose and peace to gain. If you need more tips on how to deal with stress, the Chaplain Corps staff is here to help you. Stop by our office on UTA weekends or call us at (803) 647-8265. We look forward to serving you!