5 Things We Can Learn About Stress Management from the US Army

The US Army is one of the most efficient fighting forces in the world. Its members can’t maintain their operational efficiency or lethality, however, without knowing how to manage stress.

Since many of us face extreme stress in our day-to-day lives (even if we aren’t in active combat), it can be helpful to look at what we can learn about stress management from the U.S. Army and its members.

Let’s explore 5 of their core values surrounding the topic of stress management:

5. Only Focus on Things You Can Control

For starters, many Army members quickly learn that it’s only helpful to focus on things they can personally control. 

It does no good to stress out about things beyond your control, such as the weather or someone who happens to be rude to you at work. 

In the end, we’re only ever in control of our own actions and reactions. Focus on what you can do to improve the situation or get through a stressful day and you’ll manage any resulting stress much more easily.

4. Keep Goals Realistic

Secondly, you’ll want to remember to keep any goals you set as realistic as possible.

The Army doesn’t ask miracles of its members. Instead, it teaches them that setting and following through on realistic goals is the key to a fulfilling life.

To that end, don’t give yourself extra stress by adding impossible goals to your daily workload or long-term life plan.

3. Exercise Often

Of course, the Army also requires its members to be in excellent physical shape.

Exercise is one of the best ways to manage your short-term or daily stress. Lift, swim, or run: it doesn’t matter what you do so long as you burn calories and give your body a physical outlet for the stress it accrues over the course of your day.

2. Get a Thick Skin

The Army also teaches its members to get a thick skin.

This usually happens as a natural result of Boot Camp – you won't graduate if you can't get used to a drill instructor calling you mean names! But having thick skin is valuable for just about anyone.

Don't let snide comments or insults get in the way of your happiness or make you feel stressed out. Again, you can only control how you respond to what other people do. Have thick skin and no one will be able to hurt you or add to your stress.

1. Long-Term Problems Require Expert Help

While the above short-term solutions are great for daily stress, remember that any long-term stress you feel might need the assistance of a professional.

There’s nothing wrong or shameful about this. It’s normal for people to go through stressful periods in their lives and need a little help.

Even the Army understands this. After all, it’s a brotherhood, not an “every man out for himself” kind of organization.

If you're incredibly stressed and can't escape the feeling of an impossible weight on your shoulders, consider seeking out counseling or more professional solutions depending on your needs. The Army knows that good stress management sometimes involves calling in the experts.

The servicemen and women in the US Army are living proof that stress management techniques are not only highly effective, but very necessary if we’re to carry out superhuman tasks.

Whether your daily mission is a tactical operation, a pressing deadline, or simply leveling your work/life balance, we can all take a page out of the Army’s book and benefit from being proactive when it comes to managing stress. 

Justin | Maine, USA

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