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 Nikole’s feature.
Nikole is an Air Force spouse, mother of two, and the executive director of The Paradigm Switch. She passionately volunteers, advocates, and coaches in the military community to help others reach their goals. Nikole enjoys baking, painting, reading, and traveling the world with her family.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A MILITARY SPOUSE.
My husband and I met in ROTC our freshman year of college. Although I didn’t continue in the program, we ended up together and married just after graduation. Despite knowing a lot, one can’t ever predict where the military life will lead you—and ours has certainly been full of surprises! Although spouses often struggle with identity and work, I was lucky enough to have some stability through working remotely. However, that also lent to my clash with wellness.
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY EXTREME HIGH OR LOW TIMES SINCE BECOMING A MILITARY SPOUSE, WHEN YOUR HEALTH (MENTAL AND/OR PHYSICAL) SUFFERED THE MOST?
In dealing with my physical setbacks, my lowest moment came during a deployment with two littles at home, feeling like things were only getting worse. I was dealing with an old injury to my neck/shoulder, which referred down into my arm, and basically meant I could not do anything with that arm for myself, let alone my children. I was in a lot of pain and I was supposed to “adult” for our family! That is a hard one—no matter how many helping hands you have available to you from your military family, there are some things that you have to do! What happens when you can’t? Confronting it was a hard thing for me. And everyone has their own hard thing.
I learned at that moment that getting help from a doctor, or more than one specialist, has to be something that you seek for yourself sometimes. You have to be your best advocate. It isn’t easy to deal with your hardest thing—whatever that is for you. But no one is ever going to fight for treatment or help for you like you will. And it is okay to choose yourself sometimes. Take the next right step, and know that where you are now isn’t a forever place.
I chose remote work for myself and my family, and this has been an amazing decision. But I had to take the proper steps to live this lifestyle. I am still doing this now by designing my own care after four years and a PCS. In an ideal world, a case manager would be looking at the moving pieces but they aren’t always there. So, I did this for myself. I learned enough to know what I needed to heal, and I am on my way to my highest moment now. Every day isn’t perfect, but it is progress.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO DECOMPRESS DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS?
One of my favorite pastimes and summer decompressions is camping! Being in nature and enjoying the surroundings with friends and family is so relaxing. My ideal camping activity: sitting under the stars around a campfire.
WHAT IS ONE PERSONAL HABIT THAT CONTRIBUTES TO YOUR SUCCESS?
For a very long time, my health and my career were separated. Then, I realized they were very much entwined with each other, and one fed off of the other. One of my winning personal habits is to listen to my body and choose health and rest when my body requires it—to put boundaries into place. We spend so much of our time working, we are probably unaware of how it affects our health in numerous ways. Stress is a high priority topic for the workplace but what about your physical form, posture, and environment? All super important.
Pay attention to:
How long are you sitting at your computer? Are you able to stand for a while?
Take a break, both for your posture and for your eyes!
If you work at a computer, what does your posture look like? Take a picture of yourself so you can see the arm position, extension, and use of your shoulders. (I promise you’ll thank me in five years!)
Eat and drink water!
Get the tools you need to be healthy: the right desk for you, chair, health equipment, etc.
IF YOU COULD SHARE A HEALTH AND WELLNESS RESOURCE WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Find a good local group of friends that understand and support you, an online community that you can take anywhere with you, and the best local care you can if you need it for your health and welfare.
IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND ONE BOOK AND/OR PODCAST TO MILITARY SPOUSES, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I am a huge Brené Brown fan, and I think any of her books are wonderful to arm you with the mindset needed to overcome and flourish in this lifestyle. I personally benefited so much from Dare to Lead, during a huge leadership growth phase of my life. Just like you work on your physical health, your mental health is important, too!
Nikole Schmidt is an Air Force spouse, mother of two, and the executive director of The Paradigm Switch. She passionately volunteers, advocates, and coaches in the military community to help others reach their goals. Nikole enjoys baking, painting, reading, and traveling the world with her family.
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