News: ‘Providers’ maintain a balanced approach to life’s challenges
Story by Sgt. Tanjie Patterson
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — Soldiers can face challenges while away from Family and friends. These challenges can sometimes affect Troop-morale or add stress to a Soldier’s life. With stress come emotions that can affect one’s physical and mental well-being. Through Comprehensive soldier and family Fitness, the 3rd Sustainment Brigade strives to help soldiers effectively cope with stress, manage their feelings and adapt to change while deployed to Afghanistan.
“Emotions can run high in a stressful environment, but as Soldiers you have to learn how to control yourself by approaching things in a positive, optimistic way,” said Spc. D’Shaun Howard, a human resource specialist, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, and Hampton, Va., native.
The 3rd Sustainment Brigade adopted the U.S. Army’s initiative to help increase physical and psychological health, resilience and enhance soldiers’ performance. While implementing this concept of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, Master Resilience Trainer Capt. Dana Cook, said one way to help reduce stress levels and promote mental toughness, as well as physical strength, is through yoga.
Cook, who has incorporated yoga into her lifestyle since high school, attends yoga class twice a week at Kandahar Airfield with her fellow soldiers.
“I encourage soldiers to participate because it gives you a chance to meditate and emotionally get away from the stresses of the environment,” said Cook, a native of Richmond Hill, Ga.
Yoga is a Hindu disciple that combines mind and body. Hatha yoga is the most common type and is used in an effort to promote tranquility and good health, as well as tries to free the spiritual elements of one’s mind through a series of breathing, stretching and physical poses.
“Yoga helps me to de-stress, relax and refocus my mind while challenging my body,” said Capt. Etta Wheeler, the 3rd Sustainment Brigade’s distribution officer, and native of Bossier City, La. “For me, it’s just like meditation. It is a practice that involves focus; you focus on your mind, your breathing and your muscles. It takes concentration to keep the body balanced.”
Cook said that though yoga may not be for everyone, there are alternative relaxation techniques, like breathing exercises, to help soldiers maintain a healthy and balanced emotional well-being. When taking deep breaths it sends a message to the brain, which then sends a message to the body to calm down and relax.
“So if yoga isn’t for you, close your eyes, breathe deep and let your stress flow away,” she said.
This article is the second of a five-part series related to Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness.