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Take time to take care of yourself

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- A few weeks ago I used this space to write a column entitled "Taking care of our people." But as vital as it is to take care of our people, I want this week to ask each and every one of you to do something equally as important: take care of yourself.

And I specifically ask you that you do this in four specific areas: professionally, physically, mentally and in your personal life.

From the professional point of view, I sincerely request that you never, ever, feel you've "plateaued" when it comes to how far you can go in your career, or in your learning capabilities. Education - as I hope we all know by now - is a never-ending thing. Many of you have heard me say "open book, insert face." Getting promoted in the Air Force is mostly an individual responsibility. Take the time to study, and continue to grow and you'll be amazed at where you can end up. The only one who can limit you ... is you.

I can't say enough how important it is to maintain yourself physically. In today's Air Force we have to be "expeditionary capable." It's imperative we stay fit to fight all the time, not just when it comes time to take our annual PT test. If you need to improve your PT score I have a fool-proof system ...run more and eat less. Simple as it sounds, we have to watch our diet and exercise. Get personally acquainted with the exercise equipment we have in the gym. Go for a run on the beach. Break a sweat. Being physically fit will surely pay off if you find yourself readying for an austere deployment. We need you ready.

Taking care of yourself mentally is something I think many feel will just happen on its own. It won't. Family pressures and a demanding work environment can be a very stressful. Don't be afraid to share your feelings with a friend, co-worker, a chaplain, or family member. It's not a weakness to have doubts, to feel over-extended or to be over-worked. But it is wrong - and very dangerous -- to deny these feelings exist. Ask for help if you need it. We're in your corner.

Whether you're married with children or a single Airman living on base, you need to make sure things are on track in your personal life. You wouldn't believe the number of careers I've seen blow up over the years because a service members' personal life was in shambles. If you're having financial problems, putting your head in the sand and hoping-against-hope they'll magically disappear is not the way to go. Ask for help.
The bottom line is this: we care about each and every one of you. You are our most treasured asset. We'll do anything we can to take care of you. But it all starts with you taking care of yourself. Find the time. Go Sharks!