Laughter, prayer are the best defense in battle against stress

| July 6, 2012 | 0 Comments

Chaplain (Capt.) Samuel Olmos
North Community Deputy Chaplain, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii



As a military community, we are constantly introduced to stressors. Permanent changes of station moves, deployments, redeployments, moving household goods, promotions and the whole Army Force Generation, or ARFORGEN cycle, can be nerve-racking.

Since 2006, the Army has been cycling through the reset, train/ready and available model in order to use total strength of the Army. This war model has been effective, but stressful on Soldiers and their families.

We all respond differently to stressful situations. There are so many fighters in the military; a common response is to push back even harder and fight through stressful times. For many others, however, pushing through a stressful situation is getting harder and harder.

The truth is that the complexity of stressors in the military eventually catches up to the Soldier and family members. When you add financial problems, marital issues or declining health to an already stressful ARFORGEN cycle, the stress factor increases exponentially, hence making the situation unbearable and sometimes hopeless.

Many will even argue that these stressors are the biggest detriment to the military family. It is not uncommon to hear Soldiers and family members alike blame the Army for their divorce or for their difficult predicament. But the fact remains that many families make it through these difficult times successfully.

What is the secret to their success? I believe two things make all the difference: laughter and prayer.

Successful Soldiers and families know how to laugh, and laughter is therapy for the soul. When we laugh, we shake off the heaviness in our spirit and reset ourselves.

Proverbs 17:22 says “a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” If you have not laughed for days or simply have no motivation to do so, I recommend you look to children to teach you how to laugh again.

Successful Soldiers and families also pray. I find that one of the most powerful ways of dealing with difficult, scary and stressful situations is by giving my concerns to a higher power. It saddens me when people tell me they have no one to turn to in hard times. Personally, it is this higher power that gives me the hope and strength to make it through life’s difficulties.

One of the greatest and most loving things I can do for my family is to pray with them when life is difficult. I have seen stress turn into total peace through prayer. Check out the words of Christ in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Laughter and prayer are simple, yet useful, tools in combating the stressors of military life. Almost all of us have used these tools in the past. If you are stressed out and ready to quit, don’t lose hope; instead, include laughter and prayer in your daily routine, and give God thanks when those burdens are lifted.


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Category: Footsteps in Faith, News, Standing Columns

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