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Flipping the 'switch' … Are you really there?

  • Published
  • By Special Agent Michael Robinette, AFOSI Detachment 306 commander

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- By the nature of all our jobs in the Air Force, the demand for continued excellence in the mission brings forth a potential to have our work stress bleed over and create stress in our personal lives. The vast majority of Airmen are able to cope properly and flip the proverbial “switch” once they head home from the office; all the thoughts of taskers, emails and upcoming meetings can be put aside when their child, spouse or significant other greets them at the door. For others, like myself, it can take time and practice to look within and develop those skills. And this is okay! All of us are expected to succeed, but we too often overlook how this affects us individually and those we care about.

Stress can and does extend from work to family time and vice versa. What sets people apart is how they approach and deal with this inevitable crossroad. 

For too long, I was constantly working through my to-do list from the time I got home each night until I fell asleep. While I was physically present for my spouse or friends, a lot of the time I was not fully engaged. I have the most loving wife who understands the stressors and expectations of my job. With that said, she rightly called me out when my mind drifted back to work when it should have been elsewhere. I take pride in the work I do for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and I love my wife and value our time together. I want to ensure both are taken care of.

The only way to effectively do this is by flipping that “switch” at the right time. 

Learn to focus on your mission and give it your all when you’re at work. When you’re out with family or friends, enjoying each other’s company, be in the right mindset to do so. 

The work will always be there, so remember that pride in your work is expected – But the balance between your home and work life is the true recipe for success. 

We live in a world that gives us contradictory feedback and expectations on the type of individual we should be. Winston Churchill once aptly noted, “They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds.”

The U.S. Air Force is an organization that succeeds in developing a diverse and exceptional fighting force. Do your part to be present and focused on your job while at work, and be in the moment and of clear mind when you’re with friends or family. 

Flip that “switch.”

Last, everyone needs to realize and understand the resources available to our Airmen. If you need professional assistance, use the benefits you have at your fingertips. The days of negative stigma around taking the helping hand are diminishing, and rightly so!

For suicide prevention for yourself or a loved one, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The call is free and confidential. The mental health clinic (302-677-2674), Military One Source (1-800-342-9647) and the Military and Family Life Counseling Program (302-898-4126) also provide free counseling services to active-duty Airmen. For completely confidential counseling, regardless of religious beliefs, chaplains are available at (302) 677-3932. In addition, Airmen can seek help within their chain of command and from their fellow Airmen.