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Stress is a normal part of reacting to threats and difficult situations. While deployed, you had to stay “on guard” most of the time.  Your safety, your life, and the lives of others depended on it.  Returning from deployment, you may continue to feel “amped-up” or think you need to stay “on guard” to be safe. The increased stress that helped you respond to threats during deployment could prevent you from coping with stressors in daily life.  This can lead to long-term stress, which could affect your overall health.

Signs of too much stress

Physical Signs

  • Headaches, tense muscles, and stomach upset
  • Excessive sweating and skin breakout
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Sleep Problems

Behavioral Signs

  • Excessive alcohol, tobacco, caffeine or drug use
  • Changes in appetite
  • Nervous habits like nail biting, hair-twisting, pacing, grinding your teeth
  • Picking fights and experiencing road rage
  • Laughing or crying at unusual times

Emotional Signs

  • Anxiety or sadness
  • Frustration and irritability with others
  • Frequent uneasiness, restlessness
  • Anger, resentment, hostility
  • Feeling pressured or trapped

Problems with Thinking

  • Trouble concentrating and remembering
  • Misunderstanding others or feeling confused
  • Racing thoughts
  • Difficulty making decisions

Suggested ways for managing stress

  1. Deep breathing (also called diaphragmatic breathing). This technique is easy to learn and practice. Try the free mobile app Breathe2Relax (Android) (Apple) to get started with this exercise you can do anywhere.
  2. Become aware of your thoughts and self-talk. Self-talk reflects your beliefs and attitudes about the world, other people, and yourself.  It’s important to examine your thoughts and beliefs and carefully challenge the ones that are not realistic or helpful. Mental reframing is a process you can learn to interrupt self-talk and challenge negative thoughts with more realistic, positive thoughts.
  3. Talk with a mental health professional.  Mental health therapists can help with stress management by teaching mental reframing, problem-solving, self-monitoring, and addressing the stressors in your life. Consider meeting with a provider to discuss the many ways he or she can help improve your quality of life. Learn more at You can also use Military OneSource, which offers non-medical counseling through a confidential call center.

For more questions or answers about military life and stress, please visit the Military OneSource: Managing Stress

Take a Self-Assessment

Welcome to the Stress Assessment

Completing this questionnaire should take about five minutes. When you've completed the assessment, your results will be returned along with some resources you're sure to find helpful.

Because your privacy is of utmost importance, we do not collect any personal health information (PHI). For more information about the use of PHI and your personal privacy, please visit the Defense Privacy, Civil Liberties, and Transparency Division of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Important Note

While this tool can help you determine if you need additional help, only a health care professional can provide an accurate diagnosis.

Please check, "I Acknowledge" below to confirm that you have read and understand these statements as they have been presented to you.

Over the last month, how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly?

Over the last month, how often have you felt that you were unable to control the important things in your life?

Over the last month, how often have you felt nervous and “stressed”?

Over the last month, how often have you felt confident about your ability to handle your personal problems?

Over the last month, how often have you felt that things were going your way?

Over the last month, how often have you found that you could not cope with all the things that you had to do?

Over the last month, how often have you been able to control irritations in your life?

Over the last month, how often have you felt that you were on top of things?

Over the last month, how often have you been angered because of things that were outside of your control?

Over the last month, how often have you felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome them?

Your responses suggest that you are experiencing a little amount of stress that may or not be bothering you. While most people don't want to feel stressed, a little amount can actually help us be productive. Too much, however, can make us feel overwhelmed. Stress can contribute to anxiety, depression, and poor sleep. It may also worsen certain chronic medical conditions. Check out the recommendations below for ways to help you continue to manage the occasional stress you experience.


  • For help calming your mind, listen to the "Military Meditation Coach" podcast to try a variety of meditation, mindfulness, and relaxation exercises.
  • There's an app for that! Apps like The Mindfulness Coach and Virtual Hope Box can help you develop stress management skills in a fun way. Both are freely available on the Google PlayStore and Apple App Store.
  • Military OneSource has helpful information on a variety of topics including managing one's finances, improving relationships, adjusting to military life, and improving one's health and wellness. Take a look!
  • Consult with your health care provider if you have questions (or find a doctor on the TRICARE website).
  • For immediate help, visit the Veteran Crisis Line for text support or call 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1).

Additional Resources

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

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