Stress is an interesting animal. A little stress isn’t always bad: it can be an effective motivator, and the adrenaline that stress creates can help improve both mental and physical performance. But too much stress can negatively affect your performance on duty, your relationships, and your physical and mental health. Fortunately, there are many ways to control and reduce stress and increase health and wellness. You can learn and apply stress management techniques to help limit your stress and stay more relaxed in your military and home life.
How to manage your stress:
- Take good care of yourself. Get enough sleep and exercise, eat healthfully and be sure to drink water throughout the day.
- Build a positive outlook. Try to maintain a “can-do” attitude. Focus your energy on things that make you feel good.
- Laugh often. Laughter can help you to stay upbeat. Watch a funny movie, share jokes with friends and look for the humor in everyday life.
- Learn how to relax. Take a few deep breaths and envision yourself in a peaceful place. You can also take a walk, listen to soothing music or read a good book.
- Make time for activities you enjoy. Schedule “me time” to do something fun.
- Learn to recognize when you’re stressed. Excessive stress can cause symptoms like neck or back pain, headaches, upset stomach, trouble sleeping and fatigue. Try to recognize these signals before they become overwhelming.
- Focus on the things you can control. When you feel anxious, ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to change this situation?” If the answer is no, try to let it go.
- Simplify your life. Get organized at home. File paperwork, clean out the kids’ rooms and get rid of anything you don’t need or use. Learn to say “no” to obligations and activities that will overload your schedule.
If your efforts to control your stress don’t seem to be working, you might find it helpful to talk to a professional. You can get free confidential, non-medical counseling from Military OneSource via telephone at 800-342-9647. Military and family life counselors are also available through your installation Military and Family Support Center.