Self-care outside of the military community is a hot topic and becoming more so every year. Discussing mental health is becoming less stigmatized, and the well-being of the average individual is becoming more prevalent. With the decrease of the overall stigma also comes the trend of self-care Sundays and the phrase “treat yo-self!”
BUT WHAT ABOUT IN THE MILITARY COMMUNITY?
I have seen far too much pressure placed on members of the military community, particularly military spouses to look the part, act the part, and be the perfect military spouse, even though that does not actually exist.
In addition, we put our careers, bosses, clients, and businesses ahead of our sleep and sanity. We take care of our significant others and children and only really focus on ourselves once everything else is done. We organize the PCS paperwork and logistics, deal with deployment separation, emotions and reintegration, and the challenge of starting over time and again. We think we have to put everything above ourselves. Trust me, I have been guilty of this over the years!
WHY SELF-CARE MATTERS FOR THE MILITARY SPOUSE
More often than not, it takes a wake-up call to notice the toll this kind of lifestyle takes on our lives. No matter how selfish it may sound, self-care is something vital to every person, but especially to military spouses who are living this unorthodox lifestyle.
Here are three reasons why we should not neglect our self-care:
Better overall health. Self-care is not just for your mental health. It’s also about focusing on your physical body and what it needs. Establishing good habits like physical exercise, taking vitamins, eating healthy foods, and getting enough sleep can help your overall physical health.
Stress management. Having constant stress in our lives has an adverse effect on our overall health. By taking time for self-care, we help reduce that stress while also boosting our confidence, mood, and overall outlook on our lives.
Reminding us of our self-worth. You are worth the time for self-care. Repeat that with me. You are worth it. Self-care reminds us of this and helps us remember that we are just as important as others, and that our we should take into consideration our own needs and wants. Self-care does not equal selfish.
WHAT DOES SELF-CARE LOOK LIKE?
Self-care should feed your soul. It looks different for everyone. I personally find time to myself vital to recharge, but some may find going for a run or knitting to be important for their sanity. For the sake of your body, mind, and spirit you need to find what helps you in the long run.
Feeling stuck on where to start? Here are five simple ways to start incorporating self-care into your daily routine (no babysitter required!):
Go to bed early. Unless something terrible will happen if you do not complete a task, write your to-do list for the next day, set an alarm reminding you to go to bed, and just do it. It will be worth it.
Go for a walk. Fresh air and getting your heart rate up can boost your mood and energy levels fast. Have kids? Strap those babies in the stroller or have them ride their bikes alongside you. Including them will not take away from the benefits of a walk.
Start journaling. Everyone can benefit from journaling. Keeping a journal is a great way to keep track of your goals, thoughts, dreams, and feelings. It is also a great way to measure progress of goals and to track your priorities in life. The key to journaling is to be consistent with it. Find the best time of day for you and stick with it.
Unplug. Sometimes taking a little bit of time to unplug from the rest of the world, particularly social media, can provide some self-care love both mentally and emotionally to help us recharge.
Just say no. As those left behind, we take it upon ourselves to do-all-the-things. Add that to the stigma that we shouldn’t say no, and you have a recipe for burnout. This isn’t healthy and, as I have said before, this doesn’t do anyone any good. Don’t be afraid to say no. In fact, saying no more than you say yes can actually have a positive effect. You will be fully engaged in what you do say yes to, resulting in a better job.
I know how you may feel. If you take any more time for yourself, something else is going to fall through the cracks. But I promise this is not the case. Taking the steps to put your care higher in your priorities will bless not only your life, but those around you, including your service member.
Noralee Jones is a MILSO of twelve years, mommy, expert boo-boo fixer for four little ones, and strong advocate for self-care. Having experiences with more than seven deployments, four PCS moves alone, and the author of Self-Care for MILSOs, she is an expert on the importance of filling our bodies, minds, and souls with our individual needs in order to make the most out of our lives. She wants all MILSOs to know they are important and worth the time and energy to feed their souls. Because, as we all know, you can’t pour from an empty cup.