The Wellness Spotlight Series highlights military spouses and their real world health and wellness journeys in a Facebook Live series. Below is an excerpt of Emily’s feature.
Emily is an Air Force wife and mom to two boys. In her blog, Simple by Emmy, Emily writes about her journey to a simpler and more intentional life. She loves dancing, eating peanut butter straight from the jar, and writing poetry.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE.
My husband had already been in the Air Force Band as a trumpet player for a few years when I met him, and we got married in 2008. I knew that due to the unique nature of his position, we wouldn’t have the “normal” experience of a military family since we were permanently stationed in Virginia. I haven’t had the personal experience of living on base/post or having him be deployed, but I think that my area of expertise and passion (removing the excess to live a simpler, more intentional life) is so important for military spouses because it reduces stress, overwhelm, and decision fatigue.
IF YOU ARE A HEALTH OR WELLNESS EXPERT, TELL US ABOUT IT AND HOW IT HAS IMPACTED YOUR WELLNESS JOURNEY.
I started on my journey to a simpler life back in 2015 when my husband and I were going through fertility treatments. I knew that I wanted to make the physical and emotional space necessary for a baby. I learned about minimalism, which I define as removing the excess and that which no longer serves you so that you can make room for what is most important. It allowed me to remove the physical clutter, calendar commitments, and emotional and mental clutter, to have the breathing room to focus on myself and my growing family.
In the United States, the dominant culture is more, better, and faster. It is a countercultural notion to want and actively pursue less and a slower pace of life, because everyone around us (at least according to commercials and our social media feeds) is telling us that it doesn’t make sense. When you realize that the stuff filling your house, your calendar, and your head may be holding you back from your best life, you are free to evaluate it, remove what doesn’t make sense anymore, and live a life aligned with your purpose and values. You are able to pursue true “wellness” because you have cut through the noise, distractions, and comparisons to others.
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY EXTREME LOW TIMES SINCE BECOMING A MILITARY SPOUSE, WHEN YOUR HEALTH (MENTAL AND/OR PHYSICAL) SUFFERED THE MOST?
After having our son Andrew in 2016 via IVF, my husband and I were lucky enough to become pregnant without medical intervention and our son Sean was born less than two years later. We were overjoyed about this blessing but were not expecting to have “two under two.” I experienced postpartum anxiety after Sean’s birth and it was the most difficult thing I’ve had to walk through. I expected the exhaustion but didn’t expect how defeated I felt and how overwhelmed I felt about every small question or decision. Luckily, I had a ton of support from family and friends as well as medication and professional counseling. I do feel like things would have been significantly worse if I hadn’t laid the groundwork to simplify my life prior to Sean’s birth.
WHEN HAVE YOU FELT YOUR HEALTHIEST (MENTAL AND/OR PHYSICAL) OR ARE YOU ON YOUR WAY TO YOUR HEALTHIEST? WHAT IS YOUR GOAL?
I am a morning person and there was a time not too long ago when I felt like I was “on top” of my wellness because I had a full morning routine that included hydration, physical exercise, gratitude, and prayer among other things. Then recently, my three-year-old started getting up an hour earlier which sent me into a tailspin. I definitely was in victim mode for a while but then realized that I am responsible for my health so I have to find the time for what is most important, even if it’s not when my energy is the highest. If it is a priority, I will find room. I’m getting back in-sync and feeling much better!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FORM OF SELF-CARE?
Writing is my most satisfying self-care practice. I write blog posts which helps me explore this season of motherhood and my journey to simplify, but I love writing poetry, especially for other people.
WHAT IS ONE PERSONAL HABIT THAT CONTRIBUTES TO YOUR SUCCESS?
I am fascinated by the science behind habit formation. One of the things that has been most helpful to me is habit stacking. That’s when you take a habit that you already do consistently and “stack” a habit either before or after it. For example, after I brush my teeth I take my vitamins. After I take my vitamins, I make my bed. I lay out my workout clothes right before I go to bed, so they are ready for me the next morning.
Habits help free up our brain power because when something is habitual, it means there are less decisions to make (we supposedly make 35,000 a day) and we don’t suffer from decision fatigue as quickly.
IF YOU COULD SHARE A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Clutter negatively affects our health and the health of our children. But removing clutter is physically and emotionally taxing. I love Buy Nothing groups because they are hyper-local and make it simple to get things out of your house and share them with neighbors in need. It’s also a great way to find secondhand things for free and to request to borrow something instead of buying something new.
IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK AND/OR PODCAST TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Book: The More of Less by Joshua Becker. Joshua Becker has been writing about simple living and minimalism for eleven years at Becoming Minimalist and offers heartfelt and practical advice about the benefits of living with less and where you can start if you feel overwhelmed.
Podcast: Parenting is hard, especially with the extra stress of a military lifestyle. Simple Families is an excellent resource for understanding how to simplify your parenting journey with less stuff and commitments, and how you can involve your whole family.
Emily McDermott is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but has lived in Fairfax, Virginia since 2005. She is wife to Pat and mama to two boys, Andrew (3.5) and Sean (22 months). Pat has served in the Air Force Band for seventeen years. Emily stays at home with her boys and writes about her journey to a simpler and more intentional life at her blog Simple by Emmy. She loves dancing, eating peanut butter straight from the jar, and writing poetry for special occasions.
CONNECT WITH EMILY