As a military spouse, I am familiar with the stressors this life may bring. During the numerous separations my husband and I have encountered, there was always some stressor that took effect on my health and made the days extra difficult. The biggest stressor for me was parenting both my children who are at very different stages in their life, meaning their needs are very different. This took an exhausting toll on me. As the only parent at home, I felt as if I was waking up each day just to survive and I wasn’t thriving the way I should. I can’t even count the times that I would place myself on the back burner because the children needed something first. In the moment, I wasn’t realizing this started to take a toll on my parenting as well.
I wasn’t giving my kids what they really needed. In other words, sacrificing my needs for my children served neither of us. I didn’t want to be the present yet absent mommy because I was so stressed and burned out I would constantly snap at the smallest things. I discovered having periods of unavailability that increased my presence later is exactly what I needed. Way better than being “partially” available for my kids. I needed to feel like I was thriving again, so making the time for me was mandatory, not optional.
I am sure that if you are a military spouse reading this, you too have gone through a period of self-care abandonment. Here are a few suggestions to get you started and thriving again:
• Personal Time: This one may be the hardest, but try to find some quiet time away from any distractions. I typically do this in the morning before the madness starts and again the evening right before bedtime. Don’t go right to sleep; do something you love. Read a book, have a cup of tea and curl up with a good movie. Sometimes just sitting in silence right before bed will help you to gather your thoughts.
• Positive Surroundings: Life has enough negativity, don’t drown yourself in it. Stay away from negative people and social media. My favorite way to combat negativity? I print out some positive quotes and place them right on my computer. It really does change your perspective and your mood.
• Exercise: This one I struggled with for a long time. Making the time was always difficult, but once I realized that squeezing in a 30-minute walk down the block or a light jog on the treadmill helped me to de-stress, it became a daily routine. Now if I don’t have my daily exercise, I feel moody and sleepy throughout the day. Start off small and see the difference in your mood.
• Nutrition: During my husband’s last two deployments I found it easier to just scarf down what we had easily accessible. I didn’t see the need to cook more than twice a week since the kids and I didn’t need all that much food, but the choices we had around the house became easier ones. Make sure that you stick to your food routine, just as you do when your spouse is home. Obviously, you will need to adjust portions, but make sure you’re getting ample fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. There is nothing wrong with treating yourself to take out every now and then, but don’t make a habit out of it!
With all those stressors military life throws our way, a little self-care is just what we need in order to feel refreshed and re-energized!