Military life can be stressful. TDY/TAD, PCS, deployment or time away from family or friends can feel challenging. As a Service member, how do you handle these potential stressors?
Types of stress
Some stress can be good. Short-term stress helps you finish tasks and stay alert. However, stress that continues over time can cause headaches, trouble sleeping and muscle aches. There are other physical and psychological signs that you may not recognize as stress.
How do I know if I’m feeling stressed?
It may seem like a silly question, but stress comes in many forms. Early signs of stress may be:
- Feeling down or tired all the time
- Developing a short temper
- Changes in eating habits
- Getting sick more often
- Losing focus
Know the signs
When signs of stress begin, you might consider medication as an option to help you sleep, relieve the pain, stay focused or calm down. Unless your health care provider prescribes you medication for these symptoms, it may be more helpful to identify the signs and causes of stress and use stress management techniques. That way you can feel better now and in the future.
Learn how to tackle stress without misusing prescription drugs. Here are some things you can try:
- Be kind to yourself. Eat healthy, exercise regularly and drink water. Get outside when possible; it can ease stress. If you can’t get outside, looking at photos of trees or nature may help.
- Try relaxation exercises. They may seem awkward at first, but when used regularly, these exercises can ease stress and improve your mood and pain levels.
- Start a sleep journal. Keep track of when you go to bed and how you feel when you wake up. Learn what works best for you to get good sleep.
- Do something every day that you enjoy. Run with your pet, listen to music or play a game with friends.
- Explore alternative ways to manage chronic pain. Check out options (like acupuncture or physical therapy) to find ways to manage pain without prescription drugs. Talk to your health care provider to see if these are available and could work for you.
- Understand how you’re feeling. Sometimes you can’t change situations, but you can change your response or attitude towards them.
- Build friendships through activities you enjoy.
If your stress continues or worsens there are resources and people to help. Talk to your chaplain, health care provider, behavioral health team, the Military and Family Life Counseling Program or use Military OneSource resources. If you are in crisis, reach out to the Military Crisis Line for confidential help any time.