Stress Management and Stress Exposure Training

Stress Management is taught at all levels in the career and deployment cycles as it is part of the overall goal of R2MR training. This concept permeates through all of the core principles and provides strategies for managing both day to day stressors and acute stressors. The various tools provided may help provide guidelines for recognizing how stress is impacting performance such as the Mental Health Continuum Model (MHCM) or strategies for managing acute stress such as using the big four. Buddy aid can be used for both aforementioned types of stress and may also help relieve cumulative stress.

Stress Management Quick Tips

Maintain healthy Lifestyle - ensuring adequate sleep, exercise and healthy diet help the body to better manage stress - one of the first things that people tend to let go of during times of stress is proper nutrition and exercise.

Focus on task at hand, small steps - when under stress things can seem overwhelming; it is helpful to break tasks down to small steps as opposed to trying to problem solve the "bigger picture".

Controlled breathing - anyone who runs marathons can attest to the importance of breathing properly; deep, slow breaths into the abdomen release chemicals into the body that tell the central nervous system to slow down thus reducing stress and anxiety levels. See also Big Four: Arousal Control/Tactical Breathing.

Nurture a support system - Social support is an effective prevention strategy. It can moderate the effects of stress and can have a positive impact on mental health outcomes. See also Buddy Aid.

Recognize limits and take breaks - ensuring adequate “down time” is extremely important in staying psychologically healthy.

Rest, relaxation and recreation - unlike other activities that may strip us of our energy, engaging in things we enjoy actually gives us more energy to manage stress, however, when under stress people often stop "having fun" due to a lack of time or a decreased interest or drive; it is even more important to schedule positive activities in our day in order to effectively manage the demands in our life.

Talk to someone, ask for help - recognize the signs of mental health problems and reach out for help. Early intervention is better. It takes courage to ask for help.

Tune into own signs of distress - monitor yourself for signs and symptoms listed on mental health continuum.

Make self care a priority - all of the positive things listed on the green-yellow side needs to be used when further along in the continuum.

Get help sooner - Early intervention may lead to faster recovery. There is strong clinical evidence that shows the longer the delay to treatment the more difficult the path to recovery is.

Maintain social contact - the desire to withdraw can be very strong when struggling with mental health issues but engaging in social support is a positive mental health coping strategy.

Follow care recommendations - the cause of your mental health issues may be out of your power/control, however, it is your responsibility to get yourself healthy - make positive choices and follow the advice of the helping professionals involved.

Stress Exposure Training (SET)

Stress Exposure Training (SET) is a concept that is introduced at the Advanced Leadership level to an audience that has an impact on developing training programs and strategic decision making in order to better provide a psychological framework that sets the candidates up for success. Processes and concepts are introduced to provide evidence based skill building models that can be applicable to training in any element. SET is based on stress inoculation principles and provides guidelines for leaders for training against stress. The primary purpose of stress training is to prepare CAF personnel to maintain effective performance in high-stress environments. This is done through a three phased training approach developed by Driskell and colleagues (1998) and includes:

  1. Phase 1: Information provision
  2. Phase 2: Skills acquisition
  3. Phase 3: Application and practice
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