People in the military face some unimaginably stressful situations, so it stands to reason that their methods of managing stress and anxiety are second to none. As you might expect, the military-approved tricks to reduce anxiety quickly are well-tested, efficient, and simple enough to use in almost any situation. Plus, they're just as effective for civilian use as well.
It's almost difficult to overstate the rigors of military life. "Military service can be a highly stressful experience — and not just for those who serve in active combat. All men and women who serve go through training in which they prepare themselves for the rigors of combat — and for potential threats to their well being," says Samuel "Shy" Krug, Ph.D., a VA psychologist who helps veterans work to manage anxiety. Those in combat situations have to deal with intense stressors such as exposure to live fire, but people in non-combat situations also deal with issues such as working long hours, coping with intense physical demands, and dealing with sleep interruptions, explains Dr. Krug. It's all stressful.
With this in mind, there are some real reasons why anxiety management is so important for people in the military. "Experiencing anxiety, fear, grief, or a number of other emotions, can be seen as a sign of weakness, in part because experiencing emotions may negatively impact one's ability to complete the mission," says Dr. Krug. Anxiety could cause a person's fight-or-flight instinct to kick in, complicating the ability to make decisions. Even after military service is complete, counselors such as Dr. Krug help veterans cope with common issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and substance use, which are higher in veteran populations than the general population. As it turns out, anxiety management techniques are just as crucial for veterans as well.
For many people, it's possible to ease the symptoms of anxiety with a few tricks used by those in the military. But of course there are varying degrees of anxiety and how much people are affected by them — each case is different. Don't hesitate to seek help if anxiety symptoms ever become too overwhelming. To start, though, you can see if some of these relaxation techniques work for you.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.