After long-distance dating while my husband was stationed OCONUS during our early years and four moves in the first five years of marriage, it would be easy to think that handling transitions is a breeze for me. You’d probably assume I’m a professional in resilience, and while the military spouse journey has definitely grown on me, I’ve learned that transition affects everyone differently. The military spends a great amount of energy highlighting resilience, even offering courses to help spouses and active duty service members develop their skill sets. In the midst of the chaos, it seems that the weeks during PCS season fly by without any time for a breath; experiencing stress during seasons of uncertainty is heavy.
It’s no doubt that seasons of transition affect the physical body and, most definitely, the mental state. Stress can affect energy levels, digestion, and mood, so while stress is common, there are many ways to shift gears and also maintain healthy practices. With the summer at hand, let’s address ways to handle any transition that comes your way.
FIVE TIPS FOR A HEALTHY TRANSITION
KEEP A JOURNAL
Even if worry, fear, or anxiety are parts of change, acknowledge those feelings by setting aside time to write out some deep thoughts. Ignoring or trying to stuff emotions down will do nothing to push you forward on your journey. Writing them in a journal, spending only five minutes a day, will provide an opportunity to openly share and allow you the chance to look back “post-transition” to observe any growth that was made. It also brings inner fears to light and can sometimes cause them to fizzle in the face of reality.
Related Article: One Tool to Help Heal from Trauma: The Power of Expressive Writing
ADJUST MOVEMENT HABITS
Through seasons of transition, movement habits might shift, or you might be tempted to forego them altogether, looking at them as non-essential. Being adaptable in your movement routines is key to maintaining good health within the body. Regular walks in fresh air can offer a fresh perspective and help the body detox. Light resistance training can keep the body strong and ready to move heavy boxes or prepare for the extra demands the body will face in the new stages after the transition. Regular movement can promote better sleep, too!
WATER, WATER, AND MORE WATER
What is an easier way to maintain health during times of stress than drinking water? According to studies, sipping hot water increases movement in the body, supporting digestion, detoxification, and healthy respiration. Compared to cold water, warm water transports toxins more quickly throughout the body. Experts recommend drinking 1/2 of your ideal body weight in ounces of room temperature water each day. Also, drinking 12 ounces of water one half hour prior to a meal will buffer any stomach acid and aid in digesting some of the “not so nutritious” foods you might be tempted to eat during times of transition.
BALANCE LOGIC WITH EMOTION
Sure, times of transition might be met with feelings of fear and anxiety and worry about what’s next, but there is also a place for logic and a can-do attitude. Avoid distorted thinking by balancing the logistical steps of what is happening and the facts of the situation with positive emotions to help create balance. It’s not to say that unpleasant emotions aren’t surfacing, but dwelling on them or the “what ifs” of the transition won’t benefit in the long run. Talk with a trusted friend who has transitioned through similar circumstances and see what support he/she might offer.
Taking regular breaks from thinking about the current changes may bring clarity. A few suggestions: Make time to check in with yourself and others regarding topics that don’t involve the specifics of the transition. Although it might seem wasteful to not spend every available minute on the upcoming transition, try reading a book, tuning in for a webinar, or visiting a coffee shop to take your mind off the stressful events associated with change. By considering something other than the main event, it may encourage a sense of calm and provide the opportunity to return to the tasks at hand with a new outlook.
Whatever the experience, just know that maintaining wellness throughout your season of transition IS possible.
Alecia is an Army wife, lover of travel, and a coffee-drinking connoisseur. As an ACE® Behavior Change Specialist, Alecia helps military spouses develop healthy connections between food, movement, and mindset. She is a certified Resilience Training Assistant with Army Community Services and is passionate about supporting women as they work to build resilient wellness habits. Alecia holds a BA in Psychology, a Master of Education degree, and a certificate in School Management and Leadership from Harvard University.