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Stress

Stress is a normal part of reacting to threats and difficult situations. While deployed, you had to stay “on guard” most of the time.  Your safety, your life, and the lives of others depended on it.  Returning from deployment, you may continue to feel “amped-up” or think you need to stay “on guard” to be safe. The increased stress that helped you respond to threats during deployment could prevent you from coping with stressors in daily life.  This can lead to long-term stress, which could affect your overall health.

Signs of Too Much Stress

View the  Stress Overview Fact Sheet.

Physical Signs Behavioral Signs Emotional Signs Problems with Thinking
  • Headaches, tense muscles, and stomach upset
  • Excessive sweating and skin breakout
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Sleep Problems
  • Excessive alcohol, tobacco, caffeine or drug use
  • Changes in appetite
  • Nervous habits like nail biting, hair-twisting, pacing, grinding your teeth
  • Picking fights and experiencing road rage
  • Laughing or crying at unusual times
  • Anxiety or sadness
  • Frustration and irritability with others
  • Frequent uneasiness, restlessness
  • Anger, resentment, hostility
  • Feeling pressured or trapped
  • Trouble concentrating and remembering
  • Misunderstanding others or feeling confused
  • Racing thoughts
  • Difficulty making decisions 

Suggested ways for managing stress

  1. Deep breathing (also called diaphragmatic breathing). This technique is easy to learn and practice. Try the free mobile app Breathe2Relax (Android) (Apple) to get started with this exercise you can do anywhere.
  2. Become aware of your thoughts and self-talk. Self-talk reflects your beliefs and attitudes about the world, other people, and yourself.  It’s important to examine your thoughts and beliefs and carefully challenge the ones that are not realistic or helpful. Mental reframing is a process you can learn to interrupt self-talk and challenge negative thoughts with more realistic, positive thoughts.
  3. Talk with a mental health professional.  Mental health therapists can help with stress management by teaching mental reframing, problem-solving, self-monitoring, and addressing the stressors in your life. Consider meeting with a provider to discuss the many ways he or she can help improve your quality of life. Learn more at Tricare.mil. You can also use Military OneSource, which offers non-medical counseling through a confidential call center.

For more questions or answers about military life and stress, please visit the Military OneSource: Managing Stress

Last Updated: May 23, 2022

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