Healthily Handling Stress is not Weakness
I was 23 years old when I joined the Navy. From the time I entered boot camp, to the day I left the Navy, I heard an ideal preached about the characteristics of a strong, self-sufficient sailor. It included a lot of cursing, booze, long hard hours of work, and depending on no-one but yourself to get things done. Yes, we were a team and needed to count on our brother to make sure we all survived, but it was also unspoken that you kept your personal things personal and maintained a tough outer shell.
It was a very stressful environment. There were drills, maintenance, maneuvers, and days upon days where we maybe got a couple hours sleep. The food wasn’t the greatest; our sleep patterns were off; exercise was not the easiest thing to accomplish in such a tight space; and the amount of deep meaningful conversation was limited.
Booze was an outlet. I think drinking in moderation is fine, but I knew men who drank at least twelve beers a night to handle the stress of their job, and then claimed they had no problem with alcohol because they showed up to work on time, did their job, and did not beat their wives. Divorce was prevalent and fighting happened quite a bit. The saying, “Work hard, play hard” applied.
Stress and Mental Health
Let me be clear, these were great men. They were my brothers and we worked and fought alongside each other, but the way we handled stress was not productive and did not encourage a healthy lifestyle.
There has been a stigma around mental health. For a long time, and even in some places today, people think seeking help means you were weak or crazy. What we are finding out, is that especially for people like you in high stress jobs, looking after your mental health is just another way to be the most productive you can be.
What Does Counseling Look Like?
Before I began my road to become a licensed counselor, I pictured a couch with a therapist looking at his notebook silently judging me while asking me questions about my childhood. While there are some clinicians who practice this way, counseling is so much more. Our heads are connected to our bodies. Whatever is going on with one, impacts the other. Physically, mentally, spiritually, we are tied together, so if we want to be at our most productive, we need to develop all aspects of ourselves.
You would probably not spend twenty thousand dollars on a super-charged, upgraded engine to then run canola oil through it. In the same way, counseling is performance gasoline for your engine so that all cylinders are firing together.
Working on techniques to combat stress, building a positive self-image, learning communication skills, finding exercises and techniques to help with depression—these are all things that can be covered in counseling and can help you perform better daily.
If you are interested in discussing these techniques with a trained professional, Good Dads is offering a special price to Prime Drivers. Through the health initiative Primed for Life, drivers can meet with a counselor for $40 a session over Zoom. We offer a free discovery call so you can find out for yourself what we offer. We look forward to hearing from you and answering any questions you may have.
Drew Dilisio is the Community Support Specialist and Counselor at Good Dads. He is a recent graduate of Evangel University’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, a husband and father. He can be reached for question or comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.