Week 6: Coping With Stress and Anxiety

When you’re dealing with stress, the problem may not be the stressful situation, as much as the effort to avoid that situation and the feelings it arouses.
—Ted A. Grossbart, clinical psychologist

For many military families, stress and anxiety are commonplace. This week, you explore how some military families cope with stress and anxiety related to military life.

Learning Objectives

Students will:
  • Identify approaches to military spouses dealing with stress and anxiety
  • Analyze stress and anxiety related to military life
  • Analyze impacts of stress and anxiety on well-being
  • Evaluate coping strategies to address stress and anxiety

Learning Resources

Required Readings

DeCarvalho, L. T., & Whealin, J. A. (2012). Healing stress in military families: Eight steps to wellness. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Step 2, “Explain” (pp. 17–29)
Step 3, “Discover” (pp. 31–46)

Strong, J., & Lee, J. J. (2017). Exploring the deployment and reintegration experiences of active duty military families with young children. Journal Of Human Behavior In The Social Environment, 27(8), 817-834. 

National Military Family Association. (2010). Military kids toolkit. Retrieved from http://www.militaryfamily.org/publications/kids-toolkit/
National Military Family Association (2010). National Military Family Association: Military Kids Toolkit. Retrieved from http://www.militaryfamily.org/publications/kids-toolkit/

Required Media

Laureate Education (Producer). (2014e). Coping with stress and anxiety [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note:  The approximate length of this media piece is 4 minutes.

 

Professor Child (Producer). (2014). Children of military families [Video file]. Retrieved from http://professorchild.com/products-page/videos/children-military-families/
Professor Child (Producer) (2014). Children of Military Families [Motion picture]. USA: Professor Child.

Note:  The approximate length of this media piece is 46 minutes.

Real Warriors Campaign. (2013, April 10). Kids serve too: Helping children cope [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.realwarriors.net/podcasts/episode033
The Real Warriors Campaign (2013, April 10). Kids Serve Too: Helping Children Cope [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://www.realwarriors.net/podcasts/episode033

Discussion 1: Stress and Anxiety in Military Spouses

Consider the following scenarios:

Scenario 1:

I’m nervous for him to come home. I’ve been calm for the last eight months. I’ve had the house in order. When he comes home, it’s like he disrupts it. He leaves his clothes everywhere and expects me to wait on him. He’s coming home soon and I feel mixed up. I love him and want him home, but I cringe at the thought of how our life is going to change. To make matters worse, my neighbor whose wife deployed has been making passes at me. I’ve ignored him but our kids play together and are in the same class and Bible class. It’s hard to create the distance.

Scenario 2

I’ve never been a stay-at-home anything. But I got used to it. She’s been in the desert for two years now. I also manage the household—I cook, clean, and take care of our three kids. I learned how to braid my daughter’s hair, which was a feat. Taking care of three children is not easy. I can never watch football and I’m burning cookies and cakes I have to make for birthday parties. And I’m going crazy without sex. There are days I just want to lock myself in the bathroom.

For this Discussion, select one of the two scenarios. While they may seem simplistic, they are very accurate and can produce a great deal of anxiety and stress on a daily basis. Keep in mind, not everyone is able to manage the military life effectively. As a helping professional, consider how you might assist these spouses in dealing with their stress and anxiety specific to military life.

By Day 3

Post an identification of the scenario you selected. As a helping professional, explain how you might first approach this individual who is coming to you for support. Describe one coping strategy you might recommend to assist this individual in addressing stress and anxiety. Use a scholarly resource to support your recommendation.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ posts.

By Day 5

Respond to two or more colleagues by suggesting alternative strategies to enhance coping skills.

Return to this Discussion to read the responses to your initial post. Note what you have learned and/or any insights you gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

To complete your Discussion, click on Discussions on the course navigation menu, and select “Week 6 Forum” to begin.

Response 1

 Cassandra Dardar RE: Discussion 1 – Week 6COLLAPSE

In the first scenario the wife is feeling anxious about her husband’s return home. She is concerned about how things will change and all of the added responsibilities she will have once he returns. To add on to these things her neighbor is making passes at her. First, I will validate her feelings so that she understands that I am here to support her and to find coping strategies to help reduce her stress and anxiety. I would then start by helping the family bridge the gap by informing and explaining coping strategies with her (DeCarvalho,2012). “We will facilitate healthy, intimate communication among family members and help shed some light on what the returnee’s experience is upon return” ( DeCarvalho,2012).

Providing her with some insight on what her husband is experiencing upon his return may allow her to view somethings differently. Often times when service men return home they have to readjust to a different way of life, and this involves the way they respond to family. “As such, it is important to ensure that the returnee and the family members have a variety of coping techniques to ease the readjustment stress the family is experiencing” (DeCarvalho,2012). To help this individual reduce stress and anxiety I will suggest that she join a yoga class starting out twice a week while her kids are in school. I would also recommend that she partake in activity with her husband doing something that both enjoy in order to reconnect. Much evidence implicates the utility of yoga for healthy populations and for many health concerns, stress, negative mood states and many other health concerns (Johnston,2011).

References

DeCarvalho,L.T.,&Whealin,J.A.(2012). Healing stress in military families: Eight steps to wellness. Hoboken, NJ:John Wiley & Sons.

Response 2

 Teresa Sarn-Fitch RE: Discussion 1 – Week 6COLLAPSE

Despite the significant number of military wives affected by the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been relatively little research focusing on military wives’ experiences of a wartime deployment (Johnson et al, 2007).  Whether it be from a level of ambivalence towards the military (Hoshmand & Hoshmand, 2007), or simply a reflection of women’s historical experience of “being left out of the world” (Goldner, 1988, p.42), military wives’ voices have been marginalized (Davis et al., 2011).

            I selected scenario 1.  In one study that I reviewed, (Davis et al., 2011), all of the wives that participated in the research experienced a “roller coaster” of intense contradictory emotions.  This runs contradictory to the linear mindset of the 5-stage deployment cycle (Pincus et al, 2001).  The stress that was generated by these highs and lows generally turned into a level of “moodiness” that radiated to children, friends and family of the deployed soldier (Davis et al., 2011).

            The average current deployment is now 15 months, much longer than deployments in the past.  During the deployment phase, many wives experience being more in control and independent, even as they experienced irritability, anger, sadness and despair (David et al., 2011).  Operating in this context, it was found that there are 3 themes that come to the forefront:  Fear, loss and powerlessness.  As our textbook reminds us “problems are not the problem; coping is the problem (Virginia Satir) (DeCarvalho & Whealin, 2012). 

            As a social worker, the first thing that I would try and establish with the wife in the first scenario is what is her general coping style?  Does she feel more comfortable being proactive or reactive?  One coping strategy that I would recommend to her is that she has to take care of herself, in order to take better care of her family (DeCarvalho & Whealin, 2012).  In her present situation, she is stressing over her husband coming home and the physical disorder that she anticipates within the household.  She is also anticipating the level of emotions and drama that will come with the reintegration phase.  She may be in a situation in which she has micro-managed her home environment such to the point, that she has fears that she will not be in control anymore when he gets home.  She is also experiencing unwanted advances from a fellow neighbor whose wife is deployed also.  This is a situation that she has not been able to resolve.  Because her children play with his children, it hard to avoid this particular individual. 

            I would try and encourage her to bring meditation in to her everyday schedule.  She needs to create time for herself at least 2-3 times a week in which she can relax in a quiet place (DeCarvalho & Whealin, 2012).  She can also practice journaling in which she can write down her thoughts, and be able to record her feelings (DeCarvalho & Whealin, 2012).

            Instead of ignoring the neighbor, I would suggest a more proactive stance in that she can assert herself and let the neighbor know that she is not interested in his advances.  This is more empowering.  If that does not work, I would suggest that she change her children’s schedules so that she does not have to interface with this person anymore. 

                                                                References

Davis, J., Ward, D. B., Storm, C., (2011).  The Unsilencing of Military Wives:  Wartime

            Deployment Experiences and citizen Responsibility.  Journal of Marital & Family

            Therapy.  Retrieved from Walden Databases.

DeCravalho, L. T., & Whealin, J. A. (2012).  Healing stress in military families:  Eight Steps

            To wellness.  Hoboken, NJ:  John Wiley & Sons. (pp. 31, 40).

Submission and Grading Information
Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:
Week 6 Discussion Rubric

Post by Day 3 and Respond by Day 5

To participate in this Discussion:
Week 6 Discussion

Discussion 2: Stress and Anxiety in Military Children

Children experience stress and anxiety in many ways related to military life. Think about the types of stress and anxiety that a child could experience at different stages of his or her life.

Note: Do not include the loss of a parent, as this is discussed in another week.

By Day 4

Post a description of stress or anxiety a military child could experience. Explain whether you consider this stress normative or nonnormative. Explain two impacts of this stress on the well-being of the child. Finally, describe one coping strategy you might recommend for the child and explain why you think this might be effective. Use a scholarly resource to support your recommendation.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ posts.

By Day 6

Respond to two or more colleagues by suggesting alternative strategies to enhance coping skills.

Response 1

 Ebony Horn RE: Discussion 2 – Week 6COLLAPSE

“The Department of defense identified that about 44% of active service men and women have children, meaning that approximately 1.1 million school-age and adolescent children are affected by military deployment”(As cited by Russo and Fallon, 2014). During the deployment of a parent, children will often worry about when their parent will come back home and can develop anxiety thinking about if they don’t come back. For my children, it would be abnormal for them to carry the level of stress related to whether or not my husband or I will come back from work, but for children of the military it is not. According to Russo and Fallon, “Stress is subjective because it is not just the life events or things that happen to you, but the person’s perception of the event that defines how he/she responds or adapts to it. For these families and children stress becomes normative in the military lifestyle (2014).

The absence of a parent can affect a child’s development and basic sense of trust according to experts (National Military Family Association, 2010). In working with a child who is experiencing anxiety related to their parent’s deployment, I would recommend to the parent that the child participates in group cognitive behavioral therapy. Studies have shown that CBT is the most effective way in reducing anxiety and suggest that psychotherapy delivered in a group format may generally result in better outcomes than when delivered individually, which may be attributed to the additional exposure of social stimuli and interaction in the group format and thus increasing the efficacy of psychotherapy” (Knopf, 2019)

References

Knopf, A. (2019). Group CBT most effective anxiety treatment. Brown University Child & Adolescent Behavior Letter, 35(3), 3. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1002/cbl.30363

Russo, T. J., & Fallon, M. A. (n.d.). Coping with Stress: Supporting the Needs of Military Families and Their Children. EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION JOURNAL, 43(5), 407–416. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1007/s10643-014-0665-2

National Military Family Association. (2010). Military kids toolkit. Retrieved from http://www.militaryfamily.org/publications/kids-toolkit/

Response 2

 Kimberly Morgan RE: Discussion 2 – Week 6COLLAPSE

There are several stress and anxiety experiences family members encounter when they are military families. On the other hand, school-aged children of military families have their own struggles. Can you image relocating to 2 different neighborhoods in 1 years and not knowing anybody. Enrolling in a new school in the middle of the school year. Just think finally making a friend, with the neighbor kid and it’s time to move again. Being a military family with school- age children can cause stress and anxiety. Relocating to different neighborhoods, making new and keeping friends can be challenging. Stress and anxiety can impact military families in a negative and positive fashion.  Stress levels in school-aged children is nonnormative. With their level of stress their parents encourage them to deal with it and they will make new friends when they finally move.  According to the article “Psychiatric effects of Military Deployment on Children and Families” deployment for military families has increased in the past 10 years. The impact of the well-being of a child, the article reports children experiencing the absence of both parents. Deployment are stressful events and impact children internalizing and externalizing. The impact of deployment of school-aged children influence children’s peer relationships and their achievements. The article “Military Youth and the Deployment Cycle: Emotional Health Consequences and Recommendations for Intervention” follows up and reports the loss of interest in activities. They experience sadness, crying and worries about the parent that has been deployed. In the hopes to provide the school-aged child with some coping skills, prevention program for youth peer based is a prevention program including resiliency-based support groups. The children should be encouraged to attend age-appropriate workshops including networking, meditating, and positive mindfulness practices. Another coping skill I would recommend is the Responses to Stress Questionnaire (RSQ) this approach controls the automatic responses to stress and provide coping skills.  

Esposito-Smythers, C., Wolff, J., Lemmon, K. M., Bodzy, M., Swenson, R. R., & Spirito, A. (2011). Military youth and the deployment cycle: emotional health consequences and recommendations for intervention. Journal of family psychology: JFP: journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43)25(4), 497–507. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0024534

James, T., & Countryman, J. (2012). Psychiatric effects of military deployment on children and families: the use of play therapy for assessment and treatment. Innovations in clinical neuroscience9(2), 16–20.

Responses to stress in adolescence: measurement of coping and involuntary stress responses.

Connor-Smith JK, Compas BE, Wadsworth ME, Thomsen AH, Saltzman H

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2000 Dec; 68(6):976-92.