By Halle Thornton | 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Airmen enjoyed fun in the sun, and played various sports and games to unite the installation during the biannual Wingman Day at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, May 17.
Mary Devitt, 50th Space Wing community support coordinator, began planning for the event in February.
“Everybody should be outside, in the sun, having some fun and meeting new friends,” she said. “We wanted everyone who could participate to participate.”
Tech. Sgt. Marquis Williams, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of construction management, said Wingman Day supports resiliency across the installation.
“The wing held a sports day so military and civilian members of the base were able to let loose, be outside (and inside) and play some games or do activities that were physically focused,” he said. “This sports day was able to serve as a multifaceted way to increase morale, promote mental health and boost resiliency as a whole.”
Williams added physical fitness is a great way to increase an individual’s mood.
“There are several reasons, the first and probably most commonly known is endorphins,” he said. “Endorphins are neurochemicals produced primarily within the pituitary gland and hypothalamus in response to stress and pain; otherwise known as ‘feel good’ chemicals, they not only reduce pain, but also increase an individual’s overall mood. Endorphins are released in response to physical fitness.”
Williams added physical fitness also leads to higher concentration of more “feel good” chemicals within the body, like serotonin and dopamine.
“Serotonin is used to transmit messages between nerve cells and also acts as a contributor to an individual’s overall wellbeing and happiness,” he said. “Additionally, as a precursor of melatonin, it helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycles and the internal clock.
“Dopamine helps regulate movement, attention, learning and emotional responses,”
Williams continued. “Dopamine is responsible for the feelings of pleasure within an individual.”
Williams said to tie all this back to resiliency, these ‘feel good’ chemicals in the body have a way of combating negative effects of stress (and trauma) while causing individuals to feel more relaxed and have an overall better mood.
“Being exposed to sunlight for just 20 minutes starts increasing concentrations of serotonin within an individual,” Williams said. “Sun exposure also causes the body to produce vitamin D, which has been linked to increased moods, combating depression and bone health. Serotonin is also a precursor to melatonin, which means sun exposure (during the day) can help you sleep better at night.
“If we tie this all back into the sports day, we were outside in the sun, we were socializing, we were taking a break from the stressors caused by work and we were exercising, a multifaceted way to help increase mental health and morale here at Schriever,” Williams continued.
Devitt said events like Wingman Day would not be possible without the help of other Schriever AFB community members.
“There’s a lot of moving parts that people don’t know about,” she said. “I would like to give a huge thanks to my team. They did a lot of work to make this happen.”
Devitt’s favorite part about hosting events like Wingman Day is the connectedness and camaraderie.
“As much work as it is, all of that goes away when you see everybody outside smiling and talking to their friends or making new friends,” she said.