Mental Spring cleaning

F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Spring is in the air! During this time of year cleaning is emphasized, and I'd like to take some time to focus on mental cleaning. By the time this is published, the 90th Missile Wing will be finished with three major inspections. During stressful times such as these, mental preparation is a daily activity. So let's look at some ways to help clean our minds and be best prepared for daily excellence.

Physical fitness
Working out allows you to clear your mind and not constantly focus on work. This is especially challenging during an inspection when stress levels can reach all-time highs. However, that is precisely why it's even more important. A good 30-minute aerobic workout will not only help relieve any built-up stress, but it will also free your mind from re-hashing the day that was or worrying about the day to come.

Saying No
Too often we feel the need to say yes to every request assuming we'll have time somewhere in our schedule to get it done. Unfortunately we actually clutter up our schedule and consequently our mind and add unnecessary stress when we realize we have too much on our plate. So, don't take on more than you can handle, and don't feel guilty for saying no to those requests that are not essential or necessary made by friends, family, co-workers, etc. We're not talking about mission-essential or duty-bound tasks here, but those queries for help outside of work that fill up what was once personal time not only prevents decompression but adds significant stress to your life.

Don't carry baggage
A lot of us have a hard time letting things go. We dwell on what happened yesterday or last week and worry about what may happen in the future. We question why we made a decision two years ago that we believe may have led us to a current stressful place in our lives. Let it go! No good can come from dwelling on the negative from the past or the perceived negative yet to come. Most of the time the event or decision is only negative to you and not seen as such by those around you. You can't move on when you're constantly carrying baggage from perceived or real bad decisions that happened previously or worrying about things outside of your control. This will just accumulate in your mind and cause yet more unnecessary stress that could actually be harmful down the road.

In the high-tech, digital age in which we currently live, this "art" is being lost. We've become more isolated, not only when we're out and about, but also when we're at home with our families and friends. Many people have developed computer-based friends they've never actually met as a suitable sub for real world friends you go and hang out with. Humans need to interact with other humans in real social settings. In doing so you will find yourself opening up more once trust is developed and seeing how important that sounding board is. You will also realize what you perceive as a stressor is potentially just that, a perception, and not real. The comfort you feel will help unclutter your mind of all that potentially harmful baggage and enable you to see and focus more clearly day to day. It will help you see other perspectives.

"It's all psychological" is a phrase used often. While it may not all be psychological, it's certainly true that the majority is in most cases. We need to do a better job taking care of our mental health. That does not always require a licensed professional. In applying some of these concepts I hope that you can do just that.