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The Stress Continuum Model
It is well known that maintaining personal health habits can help prevent stress and reduce and manage distress. They can also reduce the impact of distress on health. The "L.E.S.S.O.N." plan is an acronym for the key components and habits that are essential for good physical and psychological health.
These six healthy habits can help prevent distress by enhancing resilience as well as help people to cope when distress occurs. It is also helpful for Sailors to seek help in recognizing, establishing and maintaining healthy habits. Medical providers, health promotion, chaplains, and Fleet and Family Support Centers (FFSC) are all resources for improving healthy lifestyles. Unit leaders can encourage healthy habits through educational briefings, policy, personal example, and referral.
Leisure activities involve doing things you enjoy such as spending time with family and friends and with hobbies. Knowing when to take a break is an important step in managing the accumulation of stress. When people are "stressed," they often stop doing enjoyable life activities and socializing. It is healthy for Sailors to balance their daily responsibilities with leisure activities.
Exercise promotes well-being and relaxation.
Regular exercisers demonstrate higher levels of self-esteem and confidence and maintain a sense of discipline.
Exercise helps one to feel better, enhancing psychological well-being and relieving symptoms of distress. This sense of control over the body may translate to an improved sense of control over other aspects of life, a key defense against stress. Exercise can help people give up unhealthy habits that interfere with exercise. For example, smokers may cut down or quit because smoking hinders aerobic performance. Other benefits of exercise include:
NOFFS Exercise: Bent Over Row w/h Dumbbells
NOFFS website (over 90 exercises available): navyfitness.org/fitness/noffs
Walking is a simple, readily available form of exercise. Moderate exercise, such as walking, can have a beneficial effect on distress. For those whose goal includes improved physical fitness, an ideal exercise program includes aerobic exercise three to four times a week for 20 to 30 minutes preceded and followed by a five to ten minute warm - up and cool - down period, respectively. Consider consulting with your primary care provider before beginning a new exercise program.
Recommendations for a successful exercise program include:
Spirituality represents our search for meaning and significance in life and our desire to conduct ourselves by the highest principles. Living a life based on moral values is an example of connecting to a spiritual life. Spirituality often encompasses spiritual growth in religious education and worship experiences. Chaplains and community spiritual leaders can be good resources for enhancing or reconnecting to a spiritual life. Spirituality is associated with better overall physical health including lower blood pressure, less frequent hospitalizations, and longer life. Spirituality is also associated generally healthier lifestyles, and greater life satisfaction. The following is a list of ways to enhance spirituality:
Sleep needs vary considerably from person to person. Signs you may not be getting enough sleep include not feeling rested when waking and feeling sleepy during the day or when driving. If you sleep considerably past your normal wake-up time or when you do not set an alarm, you may be sleep deprived. Most people can function reasonably well when they are getting less sleep than they need. However, inadequate sleep can impair optimal work performance and raise safety concerns. Common Symptoms of missed sleep include irritability, poor concentration, and fatigue. Insufficient sleep can make it more difficult to cope with life stressors. In turn, life stressors can disrupt sleep. The following strategies can help Sailors attain good sleep:
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Night shift workers need six to seven days to reverse the normal daytime operation. Get 7 to 8 restful hours of sleep in a darkened room and avoid early morning daylight, until about 10 a.m. Once the night routine is established, the shift worker needs to maintain this, even on days off. If you only work the night shift occasionally, take a long nap (three to four hours) before starting the shift. After the shift is over, sleep three to four hours. This will give you enough recovery sleep to get you through the day and put you back on your normal daytime schedule.
A rotating shift schedule can be difficult on your body clock. You should not try to change your normal sleep cycle because the shift only lasts a few days. If you work a rotating shift, you should try to maintain this rhythm by sleeping only four to five hours after the night shift is finished. After awakening, participate in normal daytime activities and return to bed, and get three to four more hours before your shift begins. When you rotate to swings or days, sleep as normal at night and at consistent time
Optimism involves thinking in a realistic, flexible, and positive way. Optimists view setbacks as temporary, isolated challenges that they can overcome or get through.
Maintaining a sense of optimism about one's abilities to cope with current problems can facilitate good problem-solving and prevent a sense of defeat.
Optimism has been found to be associated with higher achievement, less mood disturbance, better immune system functioning, better health habits and longer life. One reason is that greater optimism has been associated with the ability to rally support from friends and other forms of support. The good news is that optimism can be learned because we chose the way we think. Learning to recognize and challenge alarming or negative thoughts so that they are more realistic, accurate, and consistent with personal values and/or based on facts, can be a key step in maintaining or improving health.
It's a common myth that our bodies use more nutrients when we're under mental stress. Although pressures at home or work sometimes cause people to neglect eating well, we do not use any more or fewer essential nutrients while under stress.
Physical stress on our bodies, such as broken bones or when recovering from surgery or sickness, may warrant paying extra attention to our nutrition needs.
But if you're mentally or emotionally stressed out, a few eating tips may help:
Eating in response to stress is common for many people. Many people do not realize that they eat differently when they are under stress. If you find yourself eating every time things get a little stressful, take a minute to figure out why you're feeling that way. For example, write down what you are eating, and how hungry you are when you eat. If you are eating when you are not hungry at all, you may be eating as a result of stress.
Making changes to improve health often means a change in lifestyle. Establishing a specific plan for making changes in health habits is essential for success:
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