Surviving Spouse Corner: Reacting to Stress

Surviving Spouse Corner: Reacting to Stress

(This article originally appeared in MOAA's Council and Chapter News update, which is delivered monthly in The MOAA Newsletter. Read the latest Council and Chapter News here.)

By Capt. Kathy Thorp, USN (Ret), Surviving Spouse Advisory Council member

Stress happens to all of us; no one can escape it. It’s how we handle the stressful situation — the fight-or-flight response — that’s important. There are many resources and recommendations to manage stress.
It’s not a one-size-fits-all list; what works for one person, might not work for you, so consider the following suggestions: 

1. Determine where the stress is coming from, and change what you can.
Have a toolbox of techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, or stretching exercises, to use when you find yourself starting to feel anxious.

2. Remove yourself, if possible, from the stressful situation.

3. Manage your time well, and spend your spare minutes doing something that brings you joy.

4. Preserve your boundaries, especially in the area of your sleep routine. Strive to obtain a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night.

5. Practice saying "no,” and delegate as necessary.

6. Schedule quiet time to relax during your day. It might include moments of reading, praying, or mindful mediation. 

7. Pick up a pen and a journal, and write down your emotions.

8. If the stress becomes overwhelming, reach out to a medical professional or a chaplain for assistance.

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