Navy Seal Stress Buster

If you want to combat extreme anxiety or fatigue, then learn from the elite forces.  Elite forces, such as the Navy Seals, are trained to cope with severe stressors.  These stressors include having a limb blown apart to witnessing the most inhumane acts.  This sounds morbid, but there is wisdom in how the elite forces train to combat extreme trauma.

I’ve been reading Building the Elite: The Complete Guide to Building Resilient Special Operators.  This book is loaded with strategies for combatting anxiety and fatigue, one of which is to reframe adverse events and memories into positives.  For instance, I’ve been taking my own memories and flipping them into loving-kindness.  It’s like flipping a switch where the dark room instantly fills with empathy and joy.  Best of all, converting negative memories to positives ensures we can manage even more extreme stressors.  Indeed, positive reframing is how the Navy Seals survive unthinkable horrors.

So, how can you, as a student, benefit from reframing events and memories?  First, if you get a bad grade, don’t see it as an indicator of your ability.  It’s more an indicator of the level of preparation or other circumstances.  So, view the grade as a beneficial signal telling you to adjust to guarantee success.  And the more you make a bad grade about something you control, the better you will tackle it.

Another strategy this book relays is to prepare for all scenarios, especially the worst.  During combat training, the Navy Seals will take a plan, say combat in Afghanistan, and prepare for as many outcomes as possible.  For instance, if a one-way mountainside road pass could be blocked, they strategize what they’ll do in this scenario.  They’ll plan their response in fine detail, even simulating it on a local mountain pass.

So, how can we, as students, apply this?  Imagine you have a tendency toward panic attacks during exams.  If so, you would benefit by clearly laying out strategies, step by step, for how to respond to a panic attack during an exam.  You will gain from laying out different scenarios, such as an uncooperative exam moderator or technical issues.  You will also want to make advanced preparations, such as accessing special accommodations.  You may also benefit from simulating the exam testing environment.  The more worse-case scenarios you address in advance, the better you will manage the actual event.

This book also talks about how to cope with extreme fatigue.  While some people may quit during severe fatigue, others keep moving.  For instance, a Navy Seal might feel extreme fatigue while carrying a massive weight for miles and miles.  This Navy Seal might decide to quit and drop the package, returning later to retrieve it if it’s still there.  Alternatively, he or she might keep going.  In this scenario, the Seal might adjust the weight to the more muscular arm while using the hip for support, switching sides once one becomes fatigued.  Did you see the nuance in this?  The Navy Seal’s response to keep going in the face of extreme fatigue can be as minor as a slight body adjustment.

So, what does this mean for you as a student?  Adjust if you need to study for sixteen hours straight for an exam but feel extreme fatigue.  For instance, try something as minor as a cup of water, a five-minute ice-cold shower, or a five-minute comedy break to keep you in the game.

So, this book presents hundreds of strategies to combat extreme anxiety and fatigue.  Whatever trauma you face is readily surmountable—even under extreme duress.  But it takes positive (loving!) reframing, preparation, and sometimes the simplest adjustments.

And what the Navy Seals can overcome, we can, too.  And why wouldn’t we? After all, success begets success; happiness begets happiness.