- Pay attention to stress. Tools are available to help you manage and reduce your
- If you are having difficulty coping with life's demands, we call this "stress."
A life without some stress would be boring. Most of us like some challenges, but
too much stress creates problems.
- People who are overly stressed report difficulty concentrating, feelings of worry
and fear, a sense that the body is wound up (for example, tense muscles, sweaty
palms, and a pounding heart), irritability with others, and exhaustion. Too much
stress over a long period of time can put your health at risk.
- If you or someone you know is in an emotional crisis call The Veterans' Hotline
at 1-800-273-TALK and press 1 for Veterans.
- Stress management suggestions:
- Physical Activity—Take a brisk walk or engage in other physically demanding activities.
This may reduce your stress. Regular physical activity is best.
- Problem Solving—Learn problem solving skills as this can often improve your ability
to cope. Your medical center may offer a class or information session on problem
- Relaxation Training—Learn relaxation and mindfulness skills. These skills can
assist you to manage the arousal that is associated with stress, and there is some
evidence that daily relaxation may protect you from at least some of the physical
responses to stress. There are several self-help books on relaxation at libraries/book
stores and your medical center may offer relaxation or mindfulness training.
- Expression—Speak up in respectful ways. Sharing thoughts and feelings in an assertive
and respectful manner can sometimes help buffer stress.
- Time Management—List what needs to get done, make plans for addressing issues,
and stick to the plan. There are several self-help books on time management at libraries
and book stores.
- Positive Thinking—Stress is often associated with negative, self-critical thinking.
Focus your attention on positive thoughts about yourself, favorite songs, poems,
favorite prayers, or hobbies.
- Pleasant Activities—Often you may be experiencing stress because you are not making
time for fun in your life. Plan to have regular, enjoyable activities and see if
this buffers your stress.
* Indicates that the link leads to a non-VA website. The VA is not responsible for
the content that is on the site.
If you have questions or interest in making a healthy living change, please
see your primary care team at the VA facility in which you receive health care.
- Stress: When the demands of life are greater than our ability to cope with the demands,
this state is commonly called stress. Although the experience of stress varies from
one individual to another, stress often affects attention, thoughts, brain activity,
and emotion; parts of the body regulated by the autonomic nervous system (heart
rate, breathing, palmar sweat, blood pressure, digestion); and the muscular system
(typically resulting in muscle tension, and either increased or decreased movement);
and hormones (cortisol, norepinephrine, and growth hormone).
VA/DOD Clinical Practice Guidelines
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- Lehrer PaW, RL, ed Principles and Practice of Stress Management. 2nd ed.
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- Selye H. The Stress of Life. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1956.
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- Batey DM, Kaufmann PG, Raczynski JM, et al. Stress management intervention for primary
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