So, there you are going about your life, as normal as can be expected and then, you get the news. It’s the news that you are always aware of in the back of your mind, but you try not to think about it. But, today you have to think about it, because you have just been told your spouse is going to be deployed. Your first instinct may be to deny what you have just been told, or you may become very sad, and then again you might become angry. Next, your thoughts might start to race as you think about your spouse’s safety, the loss of emotional support, your changing responsibilities and the loneliness of the upcoming months. Then, you are hit with a frenzy of emotions that can be very exhausting and can make you vulnerable to physical and psychological symptoms of stress. Physical symptoms can take the form of headaches, digestive issues, difficulty sleeping and a general feeling of malaise. Psychological symptoms can manifest as anxiety, irritation, loneliness, and general feelings of sadness.
You can overcome the negative impact deployments can have on your emotional health. The following practices can help you to create and maintain good emotional health during your partner’s deployment.
7 Ways to Maintain Emotional Health
Calm your mind
A mind that is untended, as we discussed in last month’s blog, grows all types of weeds when it spirals off into multiple “what if’s” that usually never occur. Replace worrying about events and circumstances that may never occur with prayer, meditation, or journaling.
Use support systems
Develop and maintain a support network of family and friends. Being able to talk to family and friends who understand how you are feeling, can help you to develop a more positive outlook on the upcoming months. Scheduling time with family and friends can help to ease the feeling of being alone and give you the extra boost of support you may need.
Create new routines
By creating routines, you actually promote emotional well-being, because routines require you to make less decisions. Although things will pop up that we don’t expect, not having to make decisions on the fly frequently, will help to reduce the stress of continuous unpredictability. Create a routine that supports your new roles and duties, that offers you flexibility and the least amount of complexity.
Create a daily exercise routine. It doesn’t have to be stringent. Walking 20-30 minutes daily can help you burn extra energy, lower your adrenaline levels, have a healthier heart, and to get a better night’s sleep. Exercise also helps your body to produce chemicals that can help you respond to stress better. It also helps your body to release endorphins which can help improve your mood and reduce feelings of anxiety.
Not getting enough sleep can make it difficult for you to handle changes, make decisions, problem solve, regulate your feelings or control your behavior. A night-time routine will help you to fall asleep quicker and sleep more restfully.
Start by creating a night-time ritual that encourages you to relax. Taking a warm bath, reading a book, listening to soft music ,or jotting down what you were grateful for that day can help you to transition from your evening activities to a peaceful slumber.
Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish. Taking time for yourself helps to make you more compassionate towards others and energetic in your daily activities. Do something for yourself every day that you find enjoyable. It doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. It could be as simple as watching your favorite movie, refurbishing an old chair, listening to your favorite audiobook, taking a bubble bath, eating your favorite food, or sitting outside in nature for 15 minutes.
Put Positive into Action
Thinking positive is great, but to get results you must put your positive thinking into action. One way to do this is to create a Vision Board or what I like to assign my clients, a vision journal. A vision journal allows you to create a book that has pictures, words, symbols and other items that remind you of what your goals and wishes are for your relationship. Adding content to this book and reviewing it frequently will help motivate you to take the steps necessary to accomplish your goals and it will help keep your thoughts aligned with positive action.