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? Here’s an important piece of advice for military spouses, especially those going through a deployment: always keep the gas tank half full.

I give full credit to my husband for this idea. He’s the one who starts to get nervous as soon as the needle drops below half a tank. Almost every time he gets in my car, he mutters, “Oh honey, you need gas.” Of course, since opposites attract, I’m the personality that lets the needle get all the way to “E” before I start looking for a gas station! And so far, *fingers crossed* I’ve never run out. But I have been stranded on the side of the road in other people’s cars, and it’s really not fun.

Thankfully, there is an easy way to avoid running out of gas– always keep the tank half full! Yes, my husband is probably right. It does mean visiting the gas station a little more often–something I hate to do with a bunch of kids in the car and usually lots of errands to run–but it is worth it for the peace of mind and preventing really frustrating breakdowns.

During deployment, keep the gas tank half full

While this is good advice to follow anytime, it is especially important for military spouses during deployments. Here’s why:

  1. Without your service member around, who would you call if you broke down on the road? You wouldn’t want to inconvenience a brand new friend!
  2. Traffic can be very unpredictable. 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 gas in the tank.
  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 if you keep your tank at least half full, you should never run out. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress and worry too.

Milspouses need to keep themselves fueled during deployments

Recently, while I was filling up my minivan in the middle of a long deployment, I realized that this rule doesn’t just apply to our cars. It can apply to us military spouses, too.

We should always keep our mind and body running on at least a ‘half tank’ of energy. Deployments are draining, both physically and emotionally. You may never feel at your best, because emotionally you’re always looking at a tank half full, or worse. Sometimes you can just feel the imaginary needle that measures your mood getting lower and lower. You don’t want to spend much time running on empty.  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.

7 ways to keep yourself going strong through deployment

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. Get a healthy schedule and use bedtime routines that will ease you to sleep.

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. Use a Brag Wall to celebrate your own accomplishments and all the ways you have grown stronger.

You’ll find lots of positive encouragement for deployment in my book, Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses. Each chapter is a letter about a common military life challenge, and they are all written to YOU–the reader! You can buy Open When on Amazon, or directly from the publisher.

Open When bookHave 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. Read more here about how to set deployment goals that really work!

Stay connected to friends

Whether you stay on base or move back home for the deployment, you’re going to need friends. 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. 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.

Use these ideas to keep your internal tank half full during deployment. Then after Homecoming, when your service member returns, you can get back to walking around with a full tank all the time. But until then… you should probably stop by the gas station and fill up your car!


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