Slow down and evaluate your engines

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE -- Life seems to be getting faster and faster for all us.
   We use cell phones, pagers, e-mail and blackberries all in an attempt to make our lives a little easier. In reality, although these devices are great leaps in technology, they also result in pulling our lives in many competing directions.
   Instead of taking the time to live balanced lives, we more often simply react to these inputs at an ever increasing pace. We can go months working feverishly to keep up with life's demands without slowing down long enough to really evaluate how out of balance our lives often become.
   Air Force Materiel Command Headquarters recently developed the "four engines of wellness" for all of us to use as a guide, which can serve as a great warning to slow down and look at the quality of our lives and help us evaluate how well balanced we are living our lives.
   Human nature will dictate that each of us have very different individual strengths. We will all live happier and healthier lives if we consciously focus on strengthening all four aspects of wellness: emotional, physical, spiritual and social.
   If you can, step back once in a while and ensure that all four engines are running on full power. The lives of those around you will benefit immeasurably.
   Emotional: Emotional well being is measured on having a positive self-esteem and overall happiness. If you have low self-esteem or are generally unhappy, oftentimes one of the other engines is bringing you down.
   Perhaps you are battling weight issues or have excessive debt. Your emotional well-being will not be 100 percent if you have neglected your other engines. Many professionals on this base -- such as mental health professionals or a chaplain -- can help with the emotional engine. But often, the people that can impact you the most are loved ones and friends. If your friends are very negative thinking people, often that influence rubs off on you. Think positive and surround yourself with positive friends and family members and often your emotional well-being will skyrocket just from their influence.
   Furthermore, be aware of the influence you have on others and try to be a positive influence on others, whether they be friends, co-workers or family members. Even being nice to strangers will immediately uplift your emotional well-being.
   Physical: In additional to emotional well-being, also focus on your physical well-being.
   This means striving to keep your body within normal weight standards and in optimal physical health. This not only betters your overall physical health but also improves your self image, again touching back on the emotional aspect of wellness. Nothing can be better for you both physically and emotionally than to enter into a consistent exercise routine (at least three to four times per week).
   For military members, this is mandatory to ensure we stay physically ready to deploy. For civilians, two workout sessions per week can be authorized by your supervisor (mission permitting) and with the proper medical screening.
   The last aspect of taking care of yourself physically is to pay special attention to your diet. Eating fast food everyday is not healthy and will significantly add inches to your waist if not closely monitored.
   Spiritual: The chaplain and the chapel programs can be a great source to address your spiritual well-being, but that should not be your only source.
   Spiritual health is maintained when you keep a sense of hope for the long-term even when things are not going your way in the short term.
   In other words, a healthy spiritual life will help you get through the tough times and help you better appreciate the happy times.
   Spiritual health does not necessarily have to be religious based, but statistics have shown that faith in a "higher order" other than yourself significantly improves your emotional outlook and overall well-being.
   Social: Last, but not least, get right with those around you. This can be as simple as being a good wingman to another individual or being a great parent or spouse to your loved ones. This can also be as difficult as reducing your alcohol dependency or giving up other vices that we all try so hard to camouflage from the outside world.
   Furthermore, a healthy social life means coming clean with your creditors and learning to live within your budget.
   Although the four engines of wellness may not be all encompassing for all people, the hope is that you can use the wellness engines as a starting point to slow down once in a while and evaluate your life and your overall health.
   In regard to the four engines, you will find if you strive to maximize your emotional, physical, social and spiritual well-being, you'll be on your way to improving your quality of life and you'll be happier and more productive in the meantime.
   Don't let another hectic day pass by without taking the time to slow down and accomplish a self-evaluation of where you and your family members are in regards to these four wellness engines. You'll be glad you did.
   For questions or comments, contact any member of the Tinker Care Network or feel free to call me at 734-2815 or e-mail
   As always, thanks for being a great wingman and for making Tinker such a great place to live and work.