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How Can I Better Manage Stress?

FEBRUARY 27, 2019 | 3-minute read

“I didn’t want to leave my house. … The world became a very scary place. You realize, ‘Wow, I’ve been affected by all my time in combat.’”

Feeling stressed or anxious can be common, but for Veterans like Amber who have experienced combat, these emotions may be heightened during seemingly everyday situations back home. This can make it difficult to fully enjoy life — carrying out your daily routine, doing things you used to enjoy, or connecting with family members and friends. 

“The difficult things for me were situations like being in rooms with a lot of people,” says Elliott, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran who served in Iraq. “Crowded restaurants would give me a really high level of anxiety.”

Veterans don’t have to accept these feelings as a new way of life. There are tools, tips, and treatments that can help them manage their stress and anxiety. Elliott noticed a change soon after connecting with a counselor at his local Vet Center.

My anxieties are less. My anger is less. I’m able to deal with things a lot better. David, Vietnam Veteran

“[My counselor] was able to actually pinpoint my symptoms and actually describe to me, ‘You’re doing this because of that. You’re doing that because of this,’” he says. “I started taking the things that she told me and applying them in the situations where I felt my symptoms happening. And it started to really work for me.”

Every day, Veterans find support to help them cope with feelings of anxiety. Here are a few steps you can take today:

  • Reach out for support. Treatment for anxiety may involve counseling, therapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy), or medication. Find resources near you today.
  • Practice mindfulness. Relaxation techniques, like deep breathing or meditation, can help deal with your stress in a healthier way. Check out VA’s Manage Stress Workbook for tips on how to be more mindful and reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Schedule your day. Creating lists, managing your time, and planning a schedule for your day can help you regain a feeling of control over your life.

Watch the video below to hear how these Veterans learned to manage stressful situations — and get back to enjoying life.


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