“There is nothing more constant than change” – Heraclitus 535 BC
Military life is seldom static. PCS orders. Deployments. Promotions. Transitions. Reintegration. Does it seem like you are always navigating new normals?
You are not alone. The truth is, everyone at some point in their life has to navigate new normals. Milestones like going to college, getting married, having children, getting a new job, and retirement are just some life events that require us all to to change.
The problem is, most of us are resistant to change. We fear the unknown and leaving our comfort zones. Change requires us to stretch, but if done well, allows for personal growth, develops confidence, and prepares us for life ahead.
Military spouses often have the benefit of knowing when change is about to happen. While I remember a couple of assignments that came down with only a month’s notice, most of the time I knew a few months out that change was on the horizon. Remember that knowledge is power. If you have the opportunity and time, research the upcoming change. If it is a PCS move, learn everything you can about your new location. If it is an upcoming deployment, prepare as best you can and develop a network that can help you cope during the separation. Anything you can do to learn about your new situation lessens the fear surrounding it.
Understand that change is almost always stressful. Be aware that you need to attend to your physical and mental health during this time. Maintain as much normalcy as possible. Take time to relax – in fact, give yourself permission to relax! Sometimes military spouses feel they need to shoulder the load of change for their entire family. This is not a healthy approach. Some down time gives you the time to think, feel, and adjust.
While most military families are very resilient, some members may find change difficult. Look for these warning signs in yourself, spouse, or children that could suggest problems with adjustment:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty eating
- Changes in daily habits
- Difficulty enjoying activities
- Experience panic
- Engage in reckless behaviors
- Abuse drugs or alcohol
- Avoid family and friends
- Thoughts of suicide
It takes most people approximately 3-6 months to navigate change, but some take longer depending on the situation. If you or a family member are experiencing any of the signs listed above after six months, consider seeking professional counseling. A counselor can help sort out feelings and develop coping skills. Military OneSource is a good place to start.
Navigating new normals is a part of life. If navigated well, change allows for personal growth. It builds confidence and better prepares you for life ahead. Go boldly in the direction of change.