L-E-S-S-O-N Plan can help all-around health
By Janie Allen, 11th Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator
/ Published September 26, 2008
BOLLING AFB, D.C. -- --
By following the Wingman's L-E-S-S-O-N Plan, you can achieve physical, mental, and spiritual health. The six healthy habits in the Wingman L-E-S-S-O-N Plan can help prevent and release distress by enhancing resilience. The keys are: leisure activities, exercise, spirituality, sleep, optimism and nutrition.
Leisure activities: Doing things that you enjoy, such as spending time with family and friends, helps relieve stress. Knowing when to take a break is an important step in managing the accumulation of stress. However, when people are "stressed," they often stop doing enjoyable life activities and socializing.
Exercise: Physical activity enhances psychological well-being and relieves symptoms of distress, including depression and anxiety. Regular exercise helps one to feel in control. 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.
Spirituality: Spirituality represents the search for meaning and significance in life and the desire to conduct ourselves by the highest principles. 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 with lower levels of depression, generally healthier lifestyles, and greater life satisfaction.
Sleep: Sleep needs vary considerably from person to person. 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. Inadequate sleep can impair optimal work performance and raise safety concerns.
Optimism: 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 or hopelessness that can make a situation worse.
Nutrition: 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. 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.
Plan: 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. Begin by assessing which of the L-E-S-S-O-N habits you are doing well with and which areas need improvement.