Transitioning out of the service, being back with family and trying to find a suitable career can cause stress and anxiety for any veteran. It is important to know different stress relief exercises.
The pressures and difficulties of everyday civilian life are completely different than those associated with military employment. This stress can be debilitating and lead to trouble sleeping, relationship conflicts and physical ailments, including body aches, difficulty breathing and nausea.
But you have the power to reduce your stress and get on living your life. Here are nine stress relief tips to help you focus and stay relaxed.
1. Plan out your day. A regimented routine is one way to avoid feeling anxious and will provide a familiar, military-like structure. Before you go to bed, make a plan for the following day. Include appointments, tasks that you need to get done and a list of goals. By putting a plan in place, you’re less likely to feel on edge when you wake up and confront a new day.
2. Take a deep breath. Focusing on breathing exercises is an easy and scientifically proven method for reducing stress on the spot. According to the American Institute of Stress, deep breathing for 20-30 minutes a day increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps calm you down.
3. Unplug your devices. Constantly monitoring your work email, checking for Facebook updates on your iPad and watching television right before bed—all of these things can make your stress levels spike. Research from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found that the blue light emitted from computer and television screens throws off melatonin production and has a negative impact on sleeping patterns. To unwind, unplug or turn off your devices and focus on having a meaningful conversation with your family or take some time to read a book.
4. Spend time with your dog. Got a lot on your mind that is making you stressed? Just spend some time with your family pooch to combat the symptoms. A study from the University of Buffalo actually found that spending time with a pet significantly reduces blood pressure and provides companionship that boosts mental health.
5. Go to a comedy club. Laughter is one of the simplest and most effective ways to de-stress. Several studies have shown that laughter increases your oxygen levels, stimulates circulation and aids muscle relaxation, all of which help to reduce stress in your body. Spending a night at a comedy club with friends, or simply watching some comedy specials at home on television, is a great way to relax.
6. Get moving. Regular exercise pumps up the production of endorphins in your brain. These neurotransmitters trigger positive feelings throughout your body and help alleviate depression and anxiety. A quick walk around your neighborhood, playing some racquetball with a friend or taking a spinning class can all have a big impact on your mood.
7. Cut back on the caffeine. If you’re drinking multiple cups of coffee each day, it’s time to cut back and get your stress levels in check. The caffeine in coffee increases catecholamines, your stress hormones. One study by Duke University showed that caffeine can actually amplify regular stressors throughout the day and multiply the negative impacts of stress on your body. Try limiting yourself to one cup of coffee in the morning, or slowly scale back by adding half a cup of decaf to your mug.
8. Chew a piece of gum. If you’re feeling uptight, pop in a stick of Juicy Fruit and go to town. Several studies have shown that levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, significantly dropped after participants chewed gum for approximately 10 minutes. Since gum chewing is affordable and accepted in most situations, it is a quick and effective way to de-stress.
9. Write in a journal. Feelings of depression, anxiety and incompetence can easily begin to overwhelm you if you let them. But getting your thoughts down on paper will give you a new perspective and help you feel like you’re in control. Try starting a journal to document your thoughts and feelings. Going back through the pages can help you identify stressors and come up with solutions for how to prevent similar situations from happening.