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Seeking Help: Spiritual fitness guides Airmen - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Seeking Help: Spiritual fitness guides Airmen

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Airmen have services available to them such as the mental health clinic and chaplins that can help with combating stress. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland) Airmen have services available to them such as the mental health clinic and chaplins that can help with combating stress. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland)

by Staff Sgt. Jason McCasland

2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

5/30/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Editor's Note: This is the second part of a 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs series on "Airmen seeking help".

My spouse is mad at me again. How can I take care of my family? I can't pay my bills. I can't focus at work. I can't pass my physical training test. I don't know what to do anymore. Is there anyone who can help me?

Many Airman has had thoughts similar to these. But, being spiritually fit can help lighten the load of daily stresses.

Being spiritually fit is about having a sense of purpose and meaning in your life. It can be essential to an individual's resiliency, just as teamwork is vital to mission accomplishment.

Spiritual fitness includes but is not limited to worldviews, religious faith, and sense of purpose, sense of connectedness, values, ethics and morals.

"In my opinion, the spiritual fitness is the most important fitness of all," said Capt. Kennie Neal, 2nd Bomb Wing chaplain. "It is the essence of who a person is. Spiritual fitness can include prayer, meditation, and life."

Feelings of hopelessness, depression, doubt and other feelings can make an Airman's work performance falter but, seeking spiritual guidance can help.

"I hold to the belief that spiritual guidance gives Airmen another option to use when dealing with such feelings," said Neal. "I attempt to have the Airmen paint or repaint the picture of why they joined the Air Force and redirect them. I also use my resources, training and experiences to help provide them hope for the future and better ways of dealing with issues."

Many Airmen struggle with making the right decisions for not only their careers but home life as well and Chaplains can often help Airmen with the tough decisions.

According to Neal, Airmen should understand there are two outcomes of their decisions, positive or negative, and decide if they can accept those consequences.

"One thing for them to do is to pray before they make any decisions and seek good spiritual counseling," said Neal. "I also encourage them to talk to people who have experienced some of the same struggles and learn what they did to make their decisions."

Learning to deal with stress or compartmentalize stress early on can help Airmen manage both home and work effectively.

"In order to combat stress, Airmen should find a place where they can meditate and focus on how they are going to handle each stressor," said Neal. "Airmen need to try to compartmentalize their stress. For example try to keep work issues at work, and home issues at home, and attempt to tackle each stressor one at a time. The Chaplain provides a safe place to discuss issues, regardless of your religion."

Chaplains offer 100 percent unbiased confidential counseling and are able to assist in dealing with daily stressors. Many chaplains have had training and/or experience in the stressors affecting Airmen and can provide guidance on how to deal with the stress.

"We take the natural ways of dealing with stressors and apply the spiritual to each stressor for Airmen to apply to their everyday life," said Neal. "The spiritual fitness provides answers on how we deal with work, finances, family, and religion. We also inform them of other resources that would assist in dealing with stressors and everyday life."

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