Everyone gets nervous or anxious from time to time. It’s perfectly normal to have butterflies in your stomach or sweaty palms when responding to stressful situations. As a Guard Soldier, you’re often faced with challenges that the average person may not experience. Learn how to manage your anxiety and how it can impact your readiness.
Anxiety is the feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease. Anxiety can trigger a “flight or fight” response (your body’s reaction to stress or a threat), releasing chemicals and hormones into your bloodstream. Your body returns to normal when the stress passes. But, if you repeatedly feel anxious or stressed, your body may not get the signal to return to normal. If this happens a lot, it can weaken your immune system and make you sick.
Signs of anxiety include:
- Feelings of impending danger or doom
- Rapid heart rate
- Feeling nervous, restless, or irritable
- Rapid breathing
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
Manage Your Anxiety
To help overcome your anxiety, simple lifestyle changes like these can make a big difference:
- Hit the gym. Exercise is a powerful stress reducer. It not only will lift your mood, but also help you stay healthy. Boost your mood by trying one of these workouts.
- Think positive. If you’re feeling anxious, calm yourself down by saying mantras like “I am calm” or “I am okay.” If you’re worried about a bad situation that might happen in the future, tell yourself “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.” This will take your mind to a positive space.
- Cut back on the caffeine. Caffeine can heighten anxiety, so limit your coffee, soda, tea, chocolate, and energy drinks. Experts recommend consuming less than 400mg of caffeine a day.
- Eat healthy. A balanced diet will help balance your mood. Find out what foods can boost or bust your mood.
- Breathe in, breathe out. Try yoga or meditation to ease your anxiety.
You can also explore these free and confidential support options to learn how to cope:
Maintaining Your Readiness
As a Guard Soldier it is important to maintain your readiness and mental health 24/7. If you feel your anxiety is affecting daily life, talk to your Medical Readiness NCO or medical health professional. Early identification and early treatment will lead to a better outcome.
Your career should not be impacted if you seek professional help or treatment. According to Army Regulation 40-501 [PDF 642KB], diagnosis of an anxiety disorder or panic attacks does not mean automatic separation of service.
If you are taking anxiety medication or have been hospitalized for anxiety disorders, it is up to your medical and behavioral health professionals to determine if you are medically fit to continue serving. They will review whether your medication and/or therapy limits you from doing your job or interferes with your military performance.
Anxiety can be tough to deal with, but know that you’re not alone!
- Take Mental Health America’s anonymous test to see if you have symptoms of anxiety.
- Build up your resiliency skills to help you cope with stress.
- Calm your nerves by getting the most out of your sleep.