Stress is the reaction of your mind and body in dealing with life’s challenges. Unmanaged stress can lead to anger, depression, weight gain or loss, an increase in blood pressure, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, substance use and/or alcohol problems, and relationship and/or intimacy issues. The effects of unmanaged stress impact not only you, but also your family and friends. Identifying ways to cope with stress is important in order to maintain both your physical wellness and your psychological and emotional well-being. Below are some tips and strategies for navigating stress.
Identify Sources of Stress
Identifying sources of stress can help you manage your stress and eliminate unnecessary stress. Stress can come from many sources including issues related to family and relationships, work, financial state, memories of past experiences, and transition.
- Recognize what situations or problems trigger your stress response.
- Make a list of what you think may be causing stress.
- Consider ways to address stressors.
Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself can help your body and mind better navigate stress and repair itself.
- Eat healthy.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get plenty of sleep and rest.
- Stay positive.
- Avoid excessive alcohol use.
- Quit tobacco.
Use Stress Reduction Techniques
Stress reduction techniques can help you relax and reduce anxiety. While coping behaviors such as using alcohol and tobacco may appear to reduce stress, they increase the stress response and decrease the body’s ability to fight stress.
- Practice diaphragmatic breathing and muscle relaxation.
- Listen to music.
- Take a break, stretch and laugh.
- Use the power of imagery to take you to a place or experience that relaxes and calms you.
Talk to Someone or Seek Help
Sometimes you may need help and support from others to effectively navigate stress. Seek help when you need it.
- Talk to a trusted friend, family member, chaplain, counselor, or medical provider.
- Seek professional help if you experience any of the following: inability to sleep or sleeping all the time; withdrawing from friends, family and/or society; increased or excessive alcohol use; acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities; rage, anger, seeking revenge; anxiety or agitation; dramatic changes in mood; feeling like there’s no reason for living or that there is no way out; feeling trapped; hopelessness.
It is a sign of strength to seek assistance from others to navigate stress and deal with life’s challenges. The following helping agencies can assist you.
Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMPCHC) Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW)
NMCPHC’s HPW Department provides a variety of resources and tools to help you navigate stress. Visit our Psychological and Emotional Well-Being webpage at http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcphc/health-promotion/psychological-emotional-wellbeing/Pages/psychological-emotional-wellbeing.aspx.
Military Crisis Line
The Military Crisis Line is a free and confidential resource hotline and crisis line for service members and veterans as well as their family members and friends. Support is provided by Veterans Affairs (VA) and many of the hotline responders are veterans themselves. Live, confidential support is available regardless of where you are stationed. Call the Military Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, text 838255 or chat live online at http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ActiveDuty.aspx.
Military OneSource provides a variety of non-medical counseling services and resources. Contact Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647 or visit their website at http://www.militaryonesource.mil/.
National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2)
Visit the T2 website at http://t2health.org/ to access a variety of mobile applications (apps) that support psychological health and wellness.
After Deployment provides information about stress and related issues as well as self-assessments. Access their resources at http://www.afterdeployment.org/.
Navy Fleet and Family Services offer Fleet and Family Support Centers which can assist you during times of transition or stress. Contact your local support center for information on how to access a Military Family Life Consultant (MFLC) who can provide short-term counseling for issues including stress management and other important life skills. Counseling can be provided for service members, couples and families. Find your local support center.