Zama resiliency courses offer respite for pandemic fatigue

Zama resiliency courses offer respite for pandemic fatigue

by Sean Kimmons
U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs

CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Jan. 28, 2022) ­– Living through the stress of a global pandemic for almost two years, Terry Owens decided to seek a change in herself.

A former Soldier and spouse of a U.S. Army Japan civilian, Owens considers herself optimistic. But as COVID-19 restrictions limited much of her social outlets, she began to feel mentally drained in a way many others continue to experience.

“I’m a pretty positive person to begin with, but it has taken a toll on me personally,” she admitted.

Owens recently turned to Camp Zama’s Army Community Service to attend one of its monthly Master Resilience Training courses. In them, students learn six competencies to become a more resilient person, including self-awareness, self-regulation, optimism, mental agility, and strengths of character and connection.

“I know whenever I start struggling, I have to find ways to deal with it,” Owens said. “You can’t just sit in your house and wait for it to go away. You have to get out there and make the change in yourself, so you can make a positive impact in the community.”

Lucinda Ward, an ACS specialist who teaches the courses, said students learn various aspects about their life during the training.

“These courses are not hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-book kind of courses,” Ward said. “These are very interactive, and they allow you to see that you are not going through the same thing by yourself.”

Following a course on Thursday, which discussed how to “hunt for the good stuff” in life, Ward and Owens shared with each other the stress they had endured during the holiday season as well as the pandemic.

“Everybody is talking about COVID. COVID is just a negative word; it breeds negativity,” Ward said. “These courses allow you to get rid of that negativity, so you can be more optimistic.

“If you come to these courses, you’ll be able to see that you are not alone. So you might as well get help with the rest of us,” she added, laughing.

The courses can even affect others not taking them. One of the main reasons Owens signed up was to gain skills that she could pass on to her 11-year-old son, who goes to a Japanese school.

“He faces so many obstacles out there every day,” she said. “This is a way for me to positively impact him at a young age, so he grows up with a mindset that maybe I didn’t have.”

Ward believes the training can create a domino effect, since one student can teach someone else and then that person can continue to pay it forward.

“That’s how our community gets better,” Ward said. “I think these courses are really going to help the community breed that positivity.”

Master Resilience Training is typically taught to Soldiers at their units. ACS provides the monthly lessons, which cover the same material, to anyone on post, including Army civilians, family members and local nationals.

Soldiers, Army civilians and family members can also become certified MRT trainers if they complete a two-week program with the USARJ Ready and Resilient Performance Center.

“I think it’s imperative that we, as community members, shore each other up,” Owens said. “Because all we really have, especially now with [pandemic] restrictions and everything else, is each other.”

Ward added that while physical fitness is often seen as important, the mind should be exercised as well.

“This is a way for you to stay mentally fit,” she said. “These classes will allow you to train your mind how to think better.”

Those interested in joining one of the monthly courses can contact ACS at 263-4357 or 046-407-4357.

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