GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Health-conscious civilians gathered at the USO Building in Grafenwoehr on Aug. 29, to contemplate their minds, bodies and spirits in the first ever Civilian Wellness Day. Nurses, spouses, local nationals and Department of the Army civilians kicked off their devoted day of well-being with a series of presentations from local subject matter experts on energy management, spiritual wholeness, nutrition and balance.

In the evening, participants shook off inertia and insecurities as they sweated their way through a TRX session at the Grafenwoehr Physical Fitness Center.

"The main goal was to provide the civilian community of the BMC resources and information to encourage their overall well-being," said Kettely Darden, the Grafenwoehr Employment Assistant Program coordinator for the Army Substance Abuse Program.

To present a full spectrum of health, ASAP teamed up with Army Community Service, the chaplains' office, local fitness gurus and a nutrition expert, all of whom briefly espoused their wisdom on how to achieve and maintain a fulfilling life.

Carolyn Bryant, a Family Advocacy Program specialist, emphasized the importance of resiliency and optimism to alleviate the crush of life's disappointments and irritants. Her message was that life is better, happier, more rewarding and more productive when people take time to step back, relax and do what they enjoy.

Asked to name what relaxes them, the attendants shared their personal comforts with the class. Some people, those who nap, sit in silence, watch TV or read, find peace in quiet solitude. Others unwind through activities, such as exercise, walks, cooking and gardening. But, many don't allow time for solace, said Bryant, seeing their own needs as an unnecessary luxury. Jolly Miller, director of ACS, and one of the event's participants, chimed in that guilt often stands in the way of these pleasant activities.

Surrounded by a room full of nodding, empathetic participants, Miller added that family or culture frequently instills the idea that anything but constant productivity is lazy, that breaks encourage idleness and sloth. The trick to defeating this mentality, explained Bryant, is to acknowledge the worth of stepping back.

"Know that you deserve to do these things, and when you do them, enjoy them and be present," she said.

Spiritual integrity also got play time during Civilian Wellness Day.

Pulling from his experience as an individual and marriage advisor, Chaplain (Maj.) Stanley Copeland knows intimately the personal struggles that stifle those in a military community.
Copeland discussed the imperative of uncovering personal values, beliefs, goals and plans.
"Know who you are," said Copeland, "or life will be a catastrophe."

Quoting a passage from Virginia Satir, a renowned psychotherapist, Copeland urged his audience to take responsibility for their thoughts and actions, and recognize how they affect happiness.

"'I own everything about me: my body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions, whether they be to others or myself,'" he read. "'I own my triumphs and success, all my failures and mistakes.'"

On a lighter note, Jim Schmidt, EAP coordinator in Vilseck, advocated the European philosophy of working to live, not living to work. He broke everyday existence into "work, love and play," stressing that each category should be given equal billing for mental and emotional well-being.

Civilian Wellness Day was the first in a series of monthly events devoted to the holistic welfare of garrison civilians. The classes welcome all civilians, from spouses and contractors to leadership and local nationals. Any group or individual who wishes to present information at an upcoming wellness event is encouraged to contact the Employment Assistance Program at DSN 475-5122, CIV 09641-83-5122.