MilLife means having to accept and deal with uncertainty, long distance love, and lonely nights. This can happen any time throughout the year, but the holiday season often makes time apart even harder to handle.
Depending on your spouse’s assigned mission, deployment normally lasts anywhere from three to 18 months. But as you know, plans frequently change. Homecoming dates get pushed back, families get relocated, military personnel are assigned new roles…and the list goes on.
Not knowing when you’ll see your partner again can cause an immense amount of fear and anxiety for a Military Spouse. When communication is few and far between, worried and fearful thoughts can transpire and cause you to feel like you’re in a constant state of distress.
Here are five things you can do right now to combat deployment anxiety and worry.
1. Take up meditation
Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a cynic when it comes to all that Zen talk, meditation has major benefits.
According to Psychology Today, meditation has been scientifically proven to boost your health, happiness, social life, self-control, brain function, and productivity. That’s a lot of improving!
To reap the benefits, you don’t have to convert to Buddhism or sit pretzel-style on the floor for an hour. It’s as simple as starting with a few minutes a day.
Meditation is, “the practice of turning your attention to a single point of reference,” as Psychology Today puts it. Meditation is meant to calm and quiet your mind, allowing your body to focus purely on breathing and being.
“The goal is not to get to a place where your life is free of problems — that’s not possible — but rather to develop the skill of accepting the existence of those problems without overvaluing them,” explains Tom Corboy, MFT, co-author of The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD.
So, next time you start to feel plagued by a wave of anxiety, remember to close your eyes, breathe, and just be.
2. Move your muscles
Stress and anxiety affect not only the mind, but also the body.
Can you feel your shoulders tense up when you start to worry? Do your palms sweat when you overthink? These are normal reactions that your body might have to stress signals.
Your mind and body are intricately connected. One of the best ways to blast anxiety is to get moving.
According to Everyday Health, just 30 minutes a day, three to five days a week is all you need to see a difference.
Keep in mind, however, that this isn’t considered a “cure,” but rather a step to improved wellness.
“Exercise won’t cure anxiety or depression, but the physical and psychological benefits can improve the symptoms,” explains therapist Sally R. Connolly.
Connolly notes that the increased heart rate associated with anxiety is calmed by exercise. Although your workout might elevate your heart rate rapidly, your heart eventually learns how to work more efficiently, helping offset those anxious feelings.
3. Get social
Sometimes the only thing you want to do when you feel anxious is curl up in a ball and be alone.
While that can be soothing, getting social also has significant perks. And we mean actual social interaction, not interacting on social media!
Putting your phone away and grabbing coffee with the girls will do wonders.
Researchers have found a positive correlation between socializing and brain function. According to the Just Breathe and the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin by SAGE, “socializing enhances mental functioning, as the mind is kept occupied with real thoughts.”
Remember that humans have a great capacity to understand one another, and you might just find some mental refuge in a trusted friend and a nice cup of joe.
4. Write it down
The simple act of writing down a worry can make it less threatening.
Sometimes the things you worry about are completely valid. Other times, it appears that you’ve hopped on the overthinking train.
Writing your worries down forces you to see them right in front of you so you can assess their reality. Ask yourself, “Is this in my control? What truths are my worries founded in?”
Then it’s time to let them go. You’ve written it down — it’s officially out of your head.
“It [writing down your worries] might be counterintuitive, but it’s almost as if you empty the fears out of your mind,” explains Associate Professor in Psychology at University of Chicago, Sian Beilock, in conversation with U.S. News And World Report.
Whether you have an empty journal or a dirty napkin, try writing down your thoughts and giving your mind a break.
5. Seek professional help
Sometimes the only way to truly cope is to talk it out with a licensed professional.
Anxiety comes in many forms and varies in intensity depending on the person. While some women experience nerves and overthinking every now and then, others experience full on panic attacks.
Regardless of the degree of anxiety from which you suffer, it is never a bad idea to seek help from a professional.
Research from the National Institute of Mental Health reveals that both cognitive and behavioral therapy are highly effective in treating anxiety disorders.
Remember that one method might work for one person and not another. The best thing that you can do for anxiety and worry is to find what works best for you and keep going.
Don’t know where to start? Check out these five anxiety-reducing mantras from Health.com and begin your journey to peace.