This article was originally published January 2020.
Military Spouse Life
Military life is not for the faint of heart. Moving every 18 months-3 years on average means starting over. Finding new friends, service providers, activities, schools, church just to name a few can cause even the most seasoned spouse to put themselves on the back burner.
Deployments, workups, on-call schedules, and the unpredictability of their spouse’s work also come into play. There is added pressure of being both mother and father to their children while that parent is gone.
Does This Sound Like You?
- Feeling run down or “running on fumes”?
- Handling everything in your life on your own?
- Feeling alone?
- Having difficulty getting motivated to make a change?
- High levels of anxiety or stress weighing you down?
Sound familiar? Yeah, this has been my life. I have often put self-care on the back burner. After all, I don’t feel I have a choice. More often than not, if I do not get it done, then it won’t get done.
Sometimes, it takes a wake-up call to notice the toll this kind of lifestyle takes on our lives. No matter how selfish it may sound, self-care is something vital to every person, but especially to ones whose spouses are not around to share in the burden of life. So here are 4 SIMPLE but profound self-care practices that can help ease the burden and stress that military life can bring.
1. Take a Break From the “military”
Obviously, I do not mean walking away from your life. Instead, take some time away from military related things. Spend time thinking about things other than military life, especially during high-stress times such as deployments. If you live on-base, take some time to get off of it. There’s something refreshing about watching a movie that doesn’t have anything to do with the military, reading a book that takes place on another planet, or just sitting on the beach and allowing yourself to enjoy the moment. Taking care of your mental health is vital to your overall health and your family’s well-being.
2. Start/Maintain a Routine
Routines are super important for good self-care. If you have kids, you KNOW that if you disrupt their routine too much, you will pay for it in the end. This is because having something predictable tends to “ground” us and give us a sense of stability (which isn’t always easy living a military life).
For me, having a routine is a big part of self-care, and coping with anxiety issues. So, do your best to maintain OR START important aspects of your routine. Perhaps you would like to begin to read a chapter of a book before going to sleep. Or maybe you have a skin care routine for morning or night you have been sticking to since college. Don’t let the stress of military life derail your routine.
3. Learn to Say No Thank You
I am super guilty of this. People ask and I say yes. It is easy to slip into this pattern of behavior. After all, most of the time if the military says “Jump”, we answer “How High?”. There isn’t a lot of options for saying no to Uncle Sam.
However, getting into this pattern of behavior can be detrimental to our wellbeing if we are not careful. From being over-scheduled, over-worked, and run down to becoming bitter when people ask you for something, saying YES to everything has its negatives.
Once I was able to realize the power of saying no – and that the world would continue to spin no matter my answer, a whole new light appeared in my life. The more I said no, the happier I became. I had more time to work on projects that were important to me. I had more time to be with the people I loved. I was able to focus more on my wellbeing and my family’s wellbeing. So start prioritizing what you answer YES to, and just say “no thank you” to the rest.
4. Ask for Help
We want to believe we have it all together, that we can manage on our own, especially as a MILSO. But here’s the thing: there’s no medal of honor or gold star waiting for us by getting difficult times on our own. Allowing others to see you in your time of need is uncomfortable and maybe a little embarrassing, but asking them to help can sometimes make the difference between a temporary burden and a complete burn out. This might be as simple as calling for takeout or as formal as seeing a therapist. Accept the help when it’s offered, and ask for it when it’s not.
A Little Change Makes a Big Impact
So the next time military life, or just life in general, start to pull you down, consider taking these four self-care practices and incorporating them into your life little by little. No matter what your circumstances, it’s important to be good to yourself and tap into the resources you have at your disposal, no matter how small they may seem.
About The Author
Hi, I’m Noralee! I’m a military wife of 10 years, mother of three under 4, and lover of southern comfort food, my planner and dark chocolate. In between our 7 deployments and 4 PCSs, when I’m not reading kid books, changing diapers or grocery shopping, I love to run, read and cook freezer meals to feed my family. Military life has a way of bringing out the worst or best in us and I want to help everyone be their best even on their worst day! I am passionate on how to manage home and family while focusing on self-care and finding a tribe in this crazy life!