Keep the Gas Tank Half Full

by | Mar 22, 2016 | Deployment Survival, New Military Spouse | 0 comments

Are you one of those people who like to test the gas tank, and see how far they can go when the needle is already in the red? Do you know anyone like that? Have you ever run out of gas? I have been stranded on the side of the road a few times, but at least it was never my fault! I was always the passenger in someone else’s car. Which still isn’t much consolation when you are in the desert in the middle of nowhere, trying to get back to 29 Palms, CA.

Well, there is an easy way to avoid running out of gas– always keep the tank half full! Yes, it does mean visiting the gas station a little more often, but it is worth it for the peace of mind and preventing really frustrating breakdowns. This is good advice to follow anytime. It is especially important to consider during deployments. Here’s why:

  1. Your knight won’t be able to come rescue you. Who would you call if you broke down on the road? Another mom with a car full of kids? Then wouldn’t you feel silly for getting into such a preventable pickle?
  2. Traffic can be very unpredictable. An accident can block the freeway for an hour. You don’t want to be stuck in traffic, watching the needle move lower, and stressing about finding the nearest station!
  3. In the event of a power outage or a natural disaster, gas pumps will not be working, and you would be unable to evacuate without some gas in the tank. So it is never wise to go all the way to E.
  4. Gas is cheaper on base, so you don’t want to leave the area without a full tank.

So yes, gas is important, and you should never run out if you keep your tank at least half full. But I realized that this rule doesn’t just apply to our cars. It can apply to us, too. We should always keep our mind and body running on at least a ‘half tank’ of energy. You don’t want to spend much time running on empty. Deployments are draining, both physically and emotionally. Sometimes you can just feel the imaginary needle that measures your mood getting lower and lower. If we let ourselves become empty from stress, lack of sleep, poor eating, or loneliness, then we will become like a car sputtering to a stop because it used up all its fuel. So here are some ways to keep your physical and emotional gauges at least half-full, too:

  • Get enough sleep. Sleep is the biggest factor to determine our mood and overall health. Too many late nights will leave you unable to care for yourself or others.
  • Eat (somewhat) healthy food. I’m no nutritional expert, but I can tell that when I feed my body with healthy food like fruits and vegetables, protein, or anything cooked at home, then I generally have more energy and fewer colds. But if I get into a routine of fast food and sugary snacks, I become sluggish and grumpy. Of course you’re busy and stressed during a deployment, so I’m not saying you need to go all-natural and make every meal from scratch. But focusing on quality food will definitely help keep your energy levels high so you’re not running on E.
  • Keep a positive attitude. Yes, deployments suck. But wallowing in that will only weigh you down and make you depressed. Try to find little things to celebrate, whether it is another week down, extra time with friends, or just having the remote to yourself.
  • Have something to look forward to. Plan social events every week or so, to give you a reason to get out and have fun. Plan a night with friends, or with other girls from the unit. Visit a local tourist attraction. Schedule a wine tasting. Or just go shopping. But having a scheduled event on a certain date can keep you motivated and running strong all week long.
  • Give yourself small goals, or large ones broken into small pieces. Don’t start the deployment expecting to lose 60 pounds, learn a new language, and get a new job. You will just become exhausted and frustrated. Give yourself monthly objectives so that you don’t run out of steam trying to accomplish everything at once.
  • Stay connected to friends! Whether you stay on base or move back home for the deployment, stay connected to your family members and your friends from the unit. You are going to want a community of military wives who understand what you are going through, as well as the support of local family and friends. Don’t be a hermit. Or an island. Or a stone. Or any other silly metaphor. Be part of a group so you don’t feel alone.
  • Help others. One of the best way to keep your energy and attitude going strong is to help others out. You might think that would make you more tired, but I have found that helping others gives me a sense of purpose and a thrill of excitement that really fills me up. So volunteer! Or get involved with helping your unit. There is always someone less fortunate than you, so finding them and helping them are great ways to put things in perspective and give you a boost.

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