In the hectic and often challenging world we live in, we constantly find our lives impacted by some sort of stress. Whether it is a mild or significant amount, stress is something that we all struggle with. We need to recognize early signs of stress in order to manage it to the best of our abilities and to prevent it altogether, when possible. As military members, we delicately balance our Reserve, Guard, active duty, or civilian careers with daily demands.
With the addition of financial and family responsibilities, it is no wonder we find ourselves stressed out!
It is imperative that we discern the difference between good and bad stress. Good stress generates a positive response. Good stress motivates you to do something to the best of your abilities, such as working toward a promotion or preparing for an important meeting. Bad stress generates negative responses, both mentally and physically. It forces the body to react in an unhealthy way; resulting in headaches, anxiety, depression, fatigue and muscle tension to name a few. When we stress, our heart races, our blood pressure shoots up and we unintentionally place strain on our cardiovascular system.
A big part of managing stress is to recognize what matters most — the stressful event or our perception of the event. For example, we all dislike sitting in traffic for hours, but it’s the price we pay to live in beautiful, southern California. Instead of taking the freeway, choose a more scenic route home, perhaps a drive down the coast would be a little more relaxing.
Taking control of a stressful situation is empowering and allows us to rationalize and put it in perspective. Planning, finding time to relax and prioritizing tasks can also greatly reduce stress. We need to learn to do these things in order to work toward being a less stressed person. This is something we can work on in just a few minutes a day. Take a little time each morning to relax and stretch out your tight muscles. Get active; working out, running and yoga are great stress reducers. If you feel you have too much to do, ask for help. Create a blessing journal in which you write down five things at the end of the day that you are grateful for, or simply pray.
Successful stress management strengthens positive coping methods and can significantly lower the level of stress that we experience every day. We feel stress in different ways, so it is essential that you find what works best for you in various situations. Experiment with different techniques and you will eventually succeed in finding what makes you feel peaceful and empowered.