Find an escape

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kelly L. Dorenkott
  • 460th Medical Operations Squadron commander
Over this past month, two very simple concepts have been reemphasized to me as a commander and as a worker bee in the Air Force. I want to share these two simple concepts with you as their value is so very important to maintaining happy, healthy Airmen.

After almost a month of filling in for my boss and still doing my own job at the same time, I have had a new realization of the importance of taking care of yourself and having an escape from the stresses of work. As we all know, resiliency is a huge focus of the Air Force and any one of the pillars of resiliency can be your escape.

We are asked every day to do more with less and work smarter, not harder. These stresses can translate into many problems or difficulties in your life outside of the workplace. 

From the perspective of a squadron commander and a physician, I see it each and every day, both in the members of my squadron and in the patients that I care for. Stress can manifest as physical ailments, mental symptoms or relationship issues-just to mention a few. It can take the average person a long time to recognize that stress can be contributing to issues that they may be having, and sometimes the individual never recognizes it on their own.  It may take a doctor, a co-worker, a Chaplain, or a Wingman to recognize it and point it out to the individual.
In order to decrease the likelihood of stress causing these types of issues, we must emphasize an "escape" from the work environment.  Of course, everyone has their own way to escape.  As mentioned previously, your escape may be physical such as running or playing a sport.  It may be spiritual such as Bible study or a church group.  It may be mental such as counseling-nothing wrong with this, or it may be social such as my escape, attending Colorado Avalanche hockey games.

I know that no matter how tough my day was at work, the minute I get in the car to go to a hockey game, I completely forget about work!  It was not until hockey season was over, that I realized that this was my escape. You may have something in your life that you do right now that is your escape, but you have not recognized it.  Step back, take a look, and think about it.  If you don't have an escape...find one!

The second concept is even simpler than the first.  The Air Force is a community.  It is a way of life. It is not just a job.  We are a total force that includes our civilian employees, our contractors and our active duty.  We need to emphasize that we are a community and that our support of each other does not stop at the door when you leave work.

During a recent out-processing meeting with one of my Senior Airmen, he highlighted the importance of others in the organization getting to know each other on a more personal level. Having knowledge of family, friends, interests, or recent events of your co-workers develops a feeling of community versus just a place to work. We need to step up to this challenge and ensure as a peer, a supervisor, a crew chief, a flight commander or a wingman that we are getting to know our Air Force family.

There are many ways to relieve stress after a long working.  It's important for each of us to find a healthy outlet.