As a Military wife stress can come with the territory. Usually many things happen all at once and create a chain reaction leading to stressful situations. “When you are stressed, your body responds as though you are in danger. It makes hormones that speed up your heart, make you breathe faster, and give you a burst of energy. This is called the fight-or-flight stress response.” Think about all the things that happen in your day. Can you relate? Are you under pressure and stressed out? I am here to explain what stress is, what it can do to you, and what to do about the dreadful effects of stress.
I’m always browsing the web looking and reading everything. I came across an online pamphlet and I just love how the Army Community Services in Hawaii explains that, “Stress affects almost everyone. Sometimes, it can be a good thing because it can energize us to meet new challenges or changes. But if it’s not managed, stress can affect your physical and emotional health, your relationships, and your life. The first step in managing stress is learning how to become aware of it in you.” Prepare to do some learning. Recognizing the signs of stress and some common physical and emotional symptoms can help determine what you can do to minimize stress or stop it before it begins.
Emotional symptoms of stress include:
- Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
- Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
- Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
- Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed Avoiding others
Physical symptoms of stress include:
- Low energy
- Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
- Aches, pains, and tense muscles
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Frequent colds and infections
- Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
- Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet
- Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
- Clenched jaw and grinding teeth
Cognitive symptoms of stress include:
- Constant worrying
- Racing thoughts
- Forgetfulness and disorganization
- Inability to focus
- Poor judgment
- Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side
Behavioral symptoms of stress include:
- Changes in appetite – either not eating or eating too much
- Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
- Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
- Exhibiting more nervous behaviors, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing
You can also take the WebMD test now How Well do you Handle Your Stress? This test can help you understand in more detail about your stress and what to do. Now that you know the basics about stress and how it can affect you, here are 5 ways you can manage stress in your life.
1) Confront Stress it at the source!
“If you feel overwhelmed by your to-do list, you could block out some time to tackle it. But not all stresses can be handled so directly. Some sources of stress can’t be eliminated, such as a sick older relative or a child who is having difficulty in school. To manage those kinds of stresses, you may need to use other techniques” such as below:
Start a Stress Journal (think of it as your Happiness Journal) – A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed; keep track of it in your journal. As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes.Write down:
- What caused your stress? (make a guess if you’re unsure)
- How you felt, both physically and emotionally?
- How you acted in response?
- What you did to make yourself feel better?
- Dealing with Stressful Situations: The Four A’s
- Change the situation:
- Avoid the stressor
- Alter the stressor
- Change your reaction:
- Adapt to the stressor
- Accept the stressor
- Change the situation:
2) Take care of yourself! Find the local base fitness center or jogging trails to exercise for free. Join a yoga or Zumba class in your area.
- If you have cable you can often use Free on Demand fitness programs.
- If you have the internet you can use Hulu, Netflix or Amazon Prime to browse what exercise programs are available.
- Exercise for 30 minutes at least 3 times per week.
- Another online source for exercise is Daily Burn which costs a $12.95 month for a subscription and sometimes there are 30 free trials you can try first.
- Some programs are even short 10 minute ones that are great for a quick workout.You could do three different 10 minute ones to get in your 30 min, even spreading it throughout the day.
- There are always free apps for you to use to supplement your exercise kick. Check out some free apps online at Google Play Store or Apple App Store on ITunes.
- Eat healthy. Our diet and what we eat daily can affect how we feel.
“Food gives us the fuel to think and the energy to move our muscles. The micro-nutrients, the vitamins, the minerals are there so that our bodies can function. You need food not just to sustain health, but to feel better. The only way the body will get the many nutrients needed to stay healthy and function is by eating a wide variety of healthy foods.” says Anne Wolf, RD, a researcher at the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine.
- Eat wholesome meals and try to avoid too much sugar.
- Take vitamins and supplements.
- Keep alcohol or caffeine consumption to a minimum.
- Go to bed early. “As you sleep, your body recovers from the stresses of the day. If you’re not getting enough sleep or your sleep is often interrupted, you lose the chance to recover from stress.”
3) Whether you’re new on base or not, what better way to reduce than to go check out what’s near you?
Depending on where you are stationed try to find what you’re interested close by. Some ideas are here to have in mind when looking for things to do:
- Most bases have a welcome center or Self-Help Facility, utilize this benefit.
- Locate the Community Center and see what classes or groups are offered like arts and crafts or find playgrounds or Picnic Areas to take your kids or dogs.
- Sometimes you just need to buy something what better way than going to a Post Exchange or Commissary.
4) Talk to someone who understands you.
Whether you need to cry, vent or laugh communicating and talking about how you feel can do wonders to relieve some of the stress that’s built up in your mind.
5) Find your favorite relaxation techniques because they are often successful for managing stress.
Try meditating with deep breathing in a quite area to flush out the stress. Sometimes you just need to breathe for a second by yourself.
- Take a calming bath with your favorite oil or salt essentials.
- Get a massage you deserve it!
Bonus: 5 More Anxiety-Relieving Tips
6) Listen to your favorite music and sing loud in the car when you are driving somewhere.
7) Keep hectic activities to a minimum daily and strategically space out important errands weekly.
8) Buy a new book or magazine you have wanted to read and don’t stop reading until you’re done.
9) Stop watching the news or look at live news streams and avoid nerve-racking shows like hauntings, murder mysteries or thrillers when your home alone.
10) Organize Your Space – Clear the cutter to live in a more harmonious home.
How do you cope with stress as a military spouse? Leave a comment!