How to Set Yourself Up for Effective Stress Management and Self-Care
Guest post by milspouse and author Bernadette Soler. Keep reading to see an exclusive discount on her new book ‘At Ease.’
Managing stress is an essential part of thriving during deployment and through all of the life experiences we go through as military spouses! Often times we get into the routine of putting everyone and everything before ourselves, that we completely overlook our own self-care. Especially during times like deployment, we are working so hard to make sure everything is running smoothly around the house, with the kids, with our extended families, and with any other work or activities we’re involved with, that it’s easy to let our personal wellness slip to the bottom of the priority list. Stress can be debilitating to the immune system, causing bodily tension or other symptoms, and definitely affects how we feel on a daily basis. The truth is, the better we take care of ourselves, the better we can show up for our spouses, families, and communities. Knowing that stress is an inevitable part of modern life, and can be magnified with the challenges we face as military spouses, one of the best things we can do is prepare for how we’ll manage stress. We’ll call it stress readiness.
The good news is, stress management can be really simple and often doesn’t have to take up extra time in our daily lives (how stressful would it be to add even MORE to our plates?!) In my experience, consistency with manageable methods that fit into our daily lives work the best. If we can make our stress management part of the routine, we won’t even have to think about it! Here are some things that can help you overcome (or even get ahead of) stress.
8 Ways to Manage Stress During Deployment
Getting enough sleep: This is so huge! Our bodies thrive when they are well-rested. I got into a majorly bad habit of staying up super late during my husband’s deployment. I’d stay up late working, binging Netflix, or scrolling through the abyss of social media. Eventually, I started to really feel the effects of not getting enough sleep – my muscles were tight and sore, my brain was foggy, and I just didn’t feel well! So I called it quits and gave myself a bedtime. Set up some routines around what time you go to bed and wake up, and play around with it until you find what really works for you. But whatever you do, make sure you are getting enough rest!
Eating well: Something I realized while my husband was overseas was that I wasn’t preparing meals for myself like I would if he were here! It’s so easy to neglect healthy eating when you’re cooking for one. But you deserve a nutritious, home-cooked meal just like you’d have if your spouse was home! When our bodies are nourished, they are able to function optimally, plus this is just a great way to show yourself some love. Forget the microwave and dust off that crock pot! You can find simple recipes and meal plans in the Deployment Masterclass.
Staying Active: Keeping the body moving is one of the best ways to keep your body feeling great and reduce stress during deployment! Find a great yoga or fitness class, or even just schedule in some times to go walking or jogging. Having an exercise buddy is a great way to stay accountable and also nurture friendships. If you have kids, see if there’s a gym with childcare, or do a trade with a friend or neighbor where you watch each other’s kids so you can both workout. There are also plenty of apps or online workout programs you can try! (I have a great resource HERE created specifically for military spouses!)
Saying no to things that you don’t want to do: One of the things I did during deployment was take the opportunity to spend quality time with my out-of-state friends and family. It was so fun to be able to see my loved ones, and it seriously nourished my heart. However, after a few longer drives and bigger weekend trips back-to-back, I realized I was getting exhausted and at a certain point (you guessed it!) it was adding to my stress. So I became a little bit more discerning with what I said yes to, and I went to things I wanted to be present for, rather than out of obligation or pressure. It’s important to find that balance, especially on deployment, of doing things that will bring joy but not at the expense of added stress and tension. Get comfortable saying no!
Laughing Daily: Laughing is straight up fun and relaxing! Save a few great YouTube links or record a show that you know will make you crack up. If you set these up ahead of time, you won’t even have to think about it when you are in dire need of a good laugh.
Practicing Gratitude: During deployment, it’s so easy to focus on what’s missing and the challenges that you may be experiencing. See if you can create a habit to make a gratitude list every day or every week – spend a little time thinking about what is going RIGHT! When we focus on things we are grateful for, it can help shift our perspective away from the things that are overwhelming and stressful. Work it into your routine, like jotting down your gratitude list every day while you drink your coffee, so you’ll always remember to do it! (There’s a really cool gratitude-themed yoga practice in my e-book here!)
Surrounding yourself with inspiring, uplifting things: Set up your environment in a way that keeps you thinking positive. Follow inspiring accounts on social media, or have a go-to book on your nightstand that you know will uplift you. You could even display a countdown calendar! If you set things up around your house or on your phone, you’ll be constantly reminded to keep your head up.
Leaning on your support system. Keep your best friends on speed dial and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it! We are social beings, and surrounding ourselves with an amazing team of support can make all the difference when it comes to deployment stress. Make sure you’re spending time and energy around those who will be there for you and truly lift you up when you need it. You don’t need to do this alone!
I hope this has been helpful in showing you easy ways to manage the challenges and stress that come with deployment. Experiment with some of these suggestions and see what works best for you! Stress is something we all experience, and while it’s a fairly normal part of life, we can get inspired to take action to create positive change in our own lives! Keeping our cup full ensures it will overflow onto others.
Bernadette Soler is a Marine wife and yoga teacher. Having been so deeply moved by the power of yoga in helping manage all of life’s experiences as a military spouse, she has created an e-book packed with yoga practices specifically for military family life situations. Now you can get 20% when you use the code SEASONEDSPOUSE at checkout. Grab your discounted copy here: http://www.ateasebook.com/