As a military spouse, the adventures can be endless. Military life is beautifully rich and filled with pride for your family’s commitment to serve the country—and it is a family affair. But it also holds seasons of deep loneliness, challenge, and continuous life stressors. Finding your resiliency, or grit, is a must. Here are some ways you can find your grit:
The very definition of resiliency is the ability to adjust or recover easily from adversity or change. It’s like the writers of the dictionary knew this word would be made for the military spouse. Regardless of the military throwing wrenches in your plan, everyday life is going to do this too.
All. The. Time.
Life in general can be incredibly hard. The important thing to remember is not to try to avoid going through your feelings of pain. Avoidance as a defense mechanism only works temporarily and can eventually lead to negative coping mechanisms that can severely impact your quality of life. Building resiliency actually comes from moving through your trauma or stressor. Your road to grit won’t be easy or without bumps—but it’ll be worth it.
CREATE CONNECTIONS WITH OTHERS
As a military spouse, you’ll have immediate friends who are all in the same boat. Embrace this commonality and find your people. Train your focus on building relationships that foster positivity, support, and reinforce your resiliency. It’s been proven that people who engage in healthy social relationships thrive. Being socially isolated can actually lead to declined health.
FIND YOUR PURPOSE
What sets your soul on fire? Chase it. Finding your purpose, and living it, will build incredible resiliency. Those who are doing what makes them happy are happier. This could mean you are chasing your dreams in terms of a career, or bucket list item, or by giving back. Science has shown us that the giver actually gets more out of the exchange than the receiver.
Find a shelter to volunteer your time with, visit residents at your local veteran’s home or spend time at your animal shelter. A life of purpose will increase self-esteem, lower your stress levels, and lead to greater happiness.
Although the word self-care can garner an eye roll or two sometimes, we must address self-care. It helps foster overall wellness and we can’t gloss over it. Doing things for yourself that promote your health will build your resiliency. A healthy person is more resilient during life’s tough seasons. This means ensuring you are blessing your body with nutritious foods, remaining active, and taking care of yourself. Having grit isn’t just about addressing your emotions, it’s about taking care of your body too.
If you are healthy, you’ll be more prepared to weather the hard times since stress can absolutely take its toll on a person’s body. As a military spouse, your plate is usually overflowing. Cut out the things that you cannot be intentional about and that don’t bring you joy. It’s okay to say no! Make time for your needs. You matter.
ASK FOR HELP
If you are struggling, please reach out. You are not alone. The recent 2019 survey released by Blue Star Families indicated that 44 percent of military spouses feel stress due to isolation. A whole list of stressors was identified as well. This life is hard.
Being resilient doesn’t mean that you do it alone. It means utilizing the tools available to you to work through and come out on the other side of your pain. Engage with your circle of support, lean into them. There are always other military spouses just waiting to wrap their arms around you and reassure you that it’s going to be okay. Let them.
Professional counseling absolutely builds resiliency. Counselors can help you build positive coping skills, work through your trauma, and increase your feelings of self-esteem. Here’s a little secret: even counselors see therapists. I will have my Master of Social Work degree in a month. I’ve seen counselors multiple times and probably will again. There should be absolutely zero shame! Embrace it and be proud of your decision to lead a healthier and more resilient life.
If you find yourself having difficulty coping with specific issues you are trying to work through, utilize your resources. Military One Source is available to Department of Defense spouses with counseling services 24/7. Coast Guard spouses can access the same benefit through CG SUPRT.
Jessica Manfre is the 2019 Armed Forces Insurance Coast Guard Spouse of the Year. She has spent the last decade in social services serving vulnerable populations. Jessica is a freelance writer and currently completing a clinical internship at a veteran’s homeless shelter in the St. Louis area. She will graduate with her Master of Social Work in April and plans to pursue employment as a licensed social worker serving and advocating for veterans and military families. She’s also obsessed with her family, books, writing all the things, and strong coffee.