Balance, acceptance, laughter lead to change in comfort zone

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Tracy Tenney
  • 39th Medical Support Squadron commander
There's a lot of change going on. I came to this realization after sitting in my fifth change of command ceremony in eight days. I've noticed when I walk or drive down the street there are fewer folks I know in our "small town." During the spring it was the exception when I didn't see someone I knew.

The Air Force itself is going through some massive changes, from consolidating previously distinct squadrons to save manpower, to changing personnel at the executive level.

Change can be perceived as bad or good, but however it is perceived, it's the way life sets aside the past and looks to the future. It can challenge and stimulate you or make you feel anxious and threatened.

However change presents itself, the key to coping with it is to recognize it, understand its effects and find what you can control. Sometimes all we can control is our attitude; a minor adjustment in that critical area goes a very long way.

We spend a good deal of our time at Incirlik working. When changes occur here, they can truly affect our momentum or our sense of purpose and may cause us to question our place in the organization. Dealing with change in the workplace requires living and working in the present, doing your best and realizing new people will soon become familiar and comfortable. Allow yourself time to adjust and try to be positive by concentrating on how you contribute to the success of the changes.

When you see a shell-shocked newcomer, lend them a hand and help them to get acclimated. Eventually what was once ill-fitting and anxiety-producing will be the new "status quo."

At the end of this adjustment you can take pride in knowing you contributed to the success of the mission during an inevitable, and sometimes anxiety-producing, time of change.

The move from the states to Incirlik can be especially difficult on family life. If you think it's tough on you moving to a new location, it can be even more so on family members.

Sometimes it's the loss of a job, a support system or the amenities we have grown used to. And sometimes it's the simple loss of a routine, which is very therapeutic.

Your family members may feel disconnected and alone when they first arrive while you are expected to hit the ground running. So make sure spouses attend the base in-processing brief.

Not only is it necessary in order to get a base pass, but it will give him or her an opportunity to meet others who have just arrived.

Help your family get connected with school, spouse groups, youth groups, or volunteer opportunities. There are even peer sponsors available for youth to help acclimate them to their new surroundings.

As you try to deal with the change that is all around you, incorporate a few of these tips:

Strive for balance -- if the change is at work, strive to maintain your routines at home, such as date nights, family nights, movies, church, pizza, fun! If the stress is in other areas, keep up personal routines such as exercise, reading, church, journal writing, etc.

Accept the change -- realize change is inevitable by identifying what you have control over. Be flexible and open-minded and you'll find you're much less anxious with the situation at hand.

Let go -- stop dwelling on the past and look at what's here. There's a lot to see and do in Turkey if you seek it out.

Keep your sense of humor -- if it's one of those "laugh or cry" situations, try the laughter first. It will go a long way toward easing the stress of change.

Lastly, take a break from everything going on and focus on something else for 30 minutes or a few hours. Volunteer, join a sports team or a group, or take advantage of the trips offered by Outdoor Recreation and Information Tickets and Travel.

There's a lot of change going on at Incirlik. Give it some time, take a deep breath and you'll find, soon enough, what was once anxiety-producing is now well within your comfort zone.