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Hannah Stockman, administrative specialist at The Basic School, completes the “Real Colors,” personality identification assessment during Family Advocacy Program’s “Warrior Stress Management” workshop Aug. 23, 2013, at the Barber Physical Activity Center aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico. The assessment was intended to help participants identify their temperament, stress triggers and develop strategies to improve communication with others.

Photo by Ameesha Felton

‘Warrior Stress Management’ workshop tackles education, diet, yoga

26 Aug 2013 | Ameesha Felton

The Family Advocacy Program took a holistic approach to helping Marines and family members better control their stress with the “Warrior Stress Management” workshop Friday at the Barber Physical Activity Center aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico.

During the six-hour workshop, Rebecca Childress, prevention and education specialist, showed participants how to identify their behavioral temperaments and offered coping techniques to decrease their stress and communicate with others.

Lauren King, Semper Fit dietician, then provided a healthy lunch while demonstrating foods that can increase stress hormones in the body and foods that can reduce them. Childress also conducted a yoga session to help the participants increase mindfulness and relax their bodies.

The class used “Real Colors,” a personality identification assessment, to identify their temperaments. Childress said the goal was to help understand stress triggers and develop strategies to improve communication with others. She said if someone knows their triggers they can be proactive in preventing negative outcomes.

“It’s important that within those first 20 minutes, you’re able to recognize when you are indeed under stress and then start doing things to bring your body back down to its normal state,” Childress said.

For some that could mean going for a walk, listening to music and or discussing the offense with their offender. Childress said there are several alternative tools to reduce stress which include avoiding the situation, altering one’s thinking on it, adapting and adjusting to the environment, or accepting it.

Nutrition also plays a vital role in the body’s response to stress, said King.

“Typically people turn to ‘comfort foods’ that are high in fat, salt and sugar when they’re stressed,” King said. “Even though these foods have been scientifically proven to decrease the stress hormone, they can make things worse in the long-term.”

Foods such as beef, veal, eggs and processed cereals can aggravate stress because they increase blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels. Too much caffeine is another contributor to stress because it increases adrenaline, anxiety and can interfere with sleep.

However, King said it’s okay to have caffeine in moderation, which, she said, consists of about 300mg or around three, 8-ounce cups of coffee per day.

Food with stress-reducing nutrients include cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, which have omega fatty acids that can prevent surges in cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone” and protect against heart disease. Oatmeal and whole grain breads are also preferred, because they boost serotonin levels and stabilize the blood sugar.

Along with education and proper dieting, Childress said yoga is another integral component to reducing stress.

Whether a person has experienced combat, a traumatic incident or a major life change, she said yoga can decrease a heightened sense of stress and aid in mental recovery.

Although the advocacy program has several stress management programs, their overall goal with this workshop was to give Marines and military family members practical tools that will help improve their mind, body and spirit.

“We wanted to put our words to action with this workshop,” Childress said. “We can have stress management classes where we tell them to eat healthy and exercise but, if we’re not showing them how to do it, it won’t be as effective.”

To learn about Family Advocacy Program stress management classes, call 703-784-2570.

— Writer:

Marine Corps Base Quantico