Coping with the Stress of Ongoing Military Operations
As our service men and women continue to carry out missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, their families, friends and significant others continue to experience varying amounts of worry and fear. In the face of this anxiety, you or someone you know may be experiencing some of the following signs of the emotional impact of stress:
• Difficulty completing tasks
• Extreme hunger or lack of appetite
• Trouble concentrating
• Difficulty making decisions
• Fear and anxiety about the future
• Crying for no apparent reason
• Apathy and emotional numbing
Tips for Coping During These Difficult Times
• Talk about it. By talking with others, particularly other military spouses, you will reduce your stress and realize that others share your feelings. Support groups exist at most military installations. If there’s one available to you, join. If not, consider starting one.
• Take care of your physical health. Get plenty of rest and exercise, avoid excessive drinking and drug use, and eat properly.
• Limit your exposure to the news media. The images, rumors and speculation can be damaging to your sense of well-being.
• Engage in activities you find relaxing. Plant flowers, attend a concert, visit an art gallery or take a long bath. Be kind to yourself.
• Do something positive. Contact community volunteer organizations to see how you can help donate blood, prepare care packages for service men and women, or support a friend or neighbor who is having trouble coping.
• Take care of your children. Acknowledge their worries and uncertainties. Reassure them that their feelings are normal. Maintain your family routines and keep the lines of communication open.
• Seek help. If you have strong feelings that won’t go away or are troubled for more than four to six weeks, you may want to seek professional help.
Handbook for Family & Friends of Service Members Before, During and After Deployment. To order a free copy, go to http://store.samhsa.gov/product/SMA10-EMLKITM).
This handbook prepares family and friends of military service members with information to better understand and cope with the range of emotions and stress that often accompany deployment. Covers before, during and after deployment and includes referrals to tools and resources.
For additional assistance with personal or work issues, contact Agnesian HealthCare’s Work and Wellness Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at (800) 458-8183.