Look down at your hands. See them? That’s all you’ve got…two hands. Two hands to do your household’s daily tasks. Tasks that are usually done by four hands. Tasks like cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking care of the kids, yard work, home maintenance, walking the dogs, etc.
Stress is a result of our continually changing environment which elicits a reaction from our body to adapt to the change. Stress can make your head feel like it’s in a vice, or trigger an epic migraine. People react to stress in different ways. If you are like me, sometimes your appetite will vanish, and other times you’ll inhale a tray of brownies.
You may have difficulty concentrating, forget things you KNOW you should know, feel anxious, become depressed, or think you're going insane. Some nights you can't sleep, and some days you can't get out of bed...
The feelings you’re experiencing, both physical and emotional are REACTIONS to the significant CHANGES that have occurred.
The wisest words said to me by a friend two deployments ago were, “You can’t control the weather, but you can control the amount of clothes you put on to protect yourself from the cold.” While we can’t control the things that are stressing us out, we can control the way we react to them.
Just to recap, I’m not saying you should let the lawn turn into a hayfield, do laundry every 6 months, and drop your kids off in the woods to be raised by a pack of wolves. Just know that there are ways to minimize your exposure to physical stress, and lessen the impact it has on your body.
Here are two simple ways you can get a grip on your deployment stress, and relieve some of the burden:
Don’t turn down help
You’ve heard family, friends, neighbors, and members of your community say, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Guess what? TAKE THEM UP ON IT!
If your neighbor offers to mow your lawn, gas up the mower! If you have a project that needs to be done, and someone is willing to donate their time and labor, head to the nearest home improvement store for materials! If a friend offers to watch the kids for the afternoon so you can get a massage or go to the gym, you’ve hit the JACKPOT!
You see, some people actually realize that you and your loved ones are making significant sacrifices, so helping you out is their way of making a contribution. It alleviates some physical stress for you and your family, and it makes them feel good about themselves. It’s a WIN/WIN!
Get some exercise
In some cases, stress can actually be POSITIVE. Exercise is a perfect example. Even though exercise is physically stressful, it’s good for you! We all know the healthy benefits of regular exercise: i.e. decreased fat, increased muscle, more energy, better sleep/attitude, decreased stress, etc.
But here’s something you might not have thought about: improving your physical fitness can help you to handle the increase physical demands caused by deployments or just life in general.
Hit the gym, go for walks, just move around and be active. It all counts and you will be amazed at how energized you feel and how clear your mind will be.
Have you checked out your installation MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation Programs)? They offer wellness and fitness programs for military families at no cost.
What has helped you get a grip on your deployment stress? Share with us in the comments below.
If you or someone you know is in crisis now, seek help immediately. Military OneSource will help to connect you with therapy for free. If you are feeling suicidal, don’t hesitate to seek out help through your local hospital emergency room. There are also hotlines to call if you are struggling. You can call 800-273-8255; then press 1 to reach the Veteran’s Crisis Line – a free, confidential line for veterans and their family members who need support.
About the blogger: Angela Caban is an Army National Guard spouse, published author and branding expert. In 2010, she founded the Homefront United Network, a military spouse and family support blog created to assist spouses who do not live near an installation, but also focusing on bridging the gap between National Guard, Reserve and Active Duty spouses. She has an extensive background in Human Resources and Communications, with her Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a Master’s in Human Resources. Angela resides in the beautiful Garden State of New Jersey with her husband and two children.
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