Being in the military is no easy feat, and you already know that as a member. Beyond doing the best you can to keep people safe, you’re also expected to make the extraordinary sacrifice of being away from home, family, and friends. Now that you’re a veteran, the transition can feel overwhelming. The demands, challenges, and even the danger that come with the job have somewhat become part of your everyday routine. Thus, the end of your military service might make it difficult for you to return to civilian life smoothly.
Whether your service lasted for only a few years or a couple of decades, re-entering the civilian world will become a challenge at some point. Military service comes with a unique and rigid lifestyle to which you have grown accustomed, and no one can blame you if you’re now struggling to return to being just you. How do you interact with other people? Where do you go from here? More importantly, how do you ensure you maintain a healthy lifestyle outside military service?
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The Road To Veteran Wellness
Knowing that you lived under harsher conditions while still serving, adjustments are required to transition back to a normal life. As they say, no one walks out of military service unscathed. It’s common for veterans to experience chronic health issues and concerns, including physical disabilities, severe injuries, and mental conditions.
Whether you’re about to retire or you’ve been out of service for a while and yet still struggling to maintain a healthy lifestyle, here are some tips that can help you out:
Prioritize Mental Health
More than being a physically challenging job, military service can take a toll on your mental health. It’s not just a matter of life or death for you. Because of the circumstances while serving in the military, veterans may face mental health issues. For instance, when you think about the months or years you’ve been in the service, you can get flashbacks, have trouble falling asleep, or even suffer from depression.
In addition to being challenging for military personnel, the feeling is the same for their families. That’s why it’s not surprising to learn that military members may suffer from addiction, thinking it may help them overcome their trauma, anxiety, depression, and sleeping troubles. Now that you’re out of service, it’s time to seek the professional help you need.
You can start by looking for effective addiction treatment for veterans to help address your concern. You must acquire the treatment, support, and tools to address your substance use disorders if you want to end the cycle of addiction and enjoy sobriety. Remember that with a healthy mind comes a healthy life.
Get Regular Medical Checkups
Fortunately for you, the government offers several perks for military members even after retirement. One of the first things you can do to take advantage of these perks is to visit your veteran center to get the medical checkup you need to ensure you’re fit enough to re-enter the civilian world. Knowing you’ve not been exposed to contagious illnesses or harmful substances, such as asbestos, during service is crucial.
Veterans may also sustain wounds while on duty or be exposed to circumstances that lead to illnesses following their military service. An obvious scenario is hearing loss brought on by exposure to loud noises, which may appear later in a veteran’s life. Regular medical checkups help ensure these conditions won’t affect your quality of life after getting out of service. Checkups can help address your health issues and provide the appropriate treatments and courses of action to help you lead a healthy lifestyle moving forward.
Maintain A Well-Balanced Diet
Making the right dietary choices goes hand in hand with leading a healthy lifestyle. You may have maintained a strict regimen while in service, but now that you’re a veteran, keeping tabs on your food choices can be pretty tricky. What you eat directly impacts your overall wellness, so you must understand the importance of making the right food choices.
You can make a meal plan each week if you don’t like stressing out when it’s time to prepare your meals. Meal plans also help ensure you won’t consume empty calories and sugary foods. Such food items can potentially cause heart disease, obesity, and other conditions that could impact your way of living. Hence, you should always consume a well-balanced diet and avoid fast food and baked goods.
Your meals should ideally include a balance of proteins and leafy greens. Vegetables and red meat should be a regular part of your diet because they provide almost all the macronutrients you need to feel full. You can opt to treat yourself once in a while but stay away from fast food, liquor, and sweets. You’ll avoid consuming excess calories this way and maintain your physical fitness.
Invest In Social Connections
Another crucial factor contributing to a healthy lifestyle is engaging in social and interactive activities. For veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental stressors, social connections can get them the support and interaction they need to ease into retirement.
It pays to surround yourself with family, friends, and new acquaintances, so you don’t lose contact with people who matter the most. Isolating yourself isn’t a good idea, particularly if you want to keep your mental health in check. You can join awareness programs, clubs, and support groups that can widen your circle and keep you connected with other veterans. Such opportunities make it possible for a smooth transition as you go out there and explore a world beyond military service.
Moreover, investing in social connections gives you a chance to try and learn something new, be it a new hobby, a training program, or different physical activity. You can also join online groups and social media communities for veterans like you.
Establish A Sleeping Schedule And Stick To It
Having served in the military for months or years, you already know the importance of getting enough sleep every night. Now that you’ve retired, this mindset shouldn’t change in any way. Studies show that sleep impacts mood, cognition, and attention, which are all essential in ensuring healthy functioning.
You can benefit more from sleeping early and sticking to a fixed schedule, aside from getting at least seven hours of sleep each night. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can help you establish a routine sleeping schedule that benefits your overall health in the long run. Be mindful of what you eat and drink at night, particularly hours before your bedtime, as those can also affect the quality of your sleep.
Take note of the things that disturb you so you can eliminate or reduce them. For example, limiting your screen time in the evening is recommended because exposure to blue light can affect your sleep-wake cycle. Instead of scrolling up and down your phone before bedtime, consider listening to soothing music or reading a book instead.
Be Physically Active
There’s no shortcut to getting physically healthy, so you must always be willing to put in the work. You may think that engaging in exercise will be easy because you’ve been pretty accustomed to working out and being physically active when you were still a soldier. However, that might be difficult as you navigate your new life as a civilian.
Exercising goes a long way in boosting energy and endorphins, which are crucial in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. So, you should commit and indulge in physical activities and routine exercises you’re comfortable with and enjoy doing. You can start by increasing your daily movement, which is possible by jogging, biking, walking, running, and swimming.
Such activities can help keep a sound body and mind, which is essential if you want to live a healthier and happier civilian life. Additionally, they aid in the growth of stronger muscles, bones, immune systems, and metabolic rates. If you prefer working out in the gym, you might also think about doing that. In either case, make sure to set aside some time each day for yourself to indulge in physical activity to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Secure Your Future
Monetary benefits may be available to veterans like you, depending on your health condition and what injuries or diseases you’ve incurred while in military service. However, securing financial freedom should also be a priority if you want to live a stress-free civilian life. You should recognize that financial wellness eventually leads to a healthy lifestyle.
Aside from keeping your credit score in check, you might consider making monthly saving goals and setting apart an emergency fund you can use for any purposes later on in your retirement. Utilize available resources to help you analyze your finances effectively to determine your next actions. You may also choose to start a business or pursue your other passions.
Life after service won’t be a walk in the park, primarily if you’ve been so used to the military way of living for most of your adult life. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t do something to help ease the transition, particularly concerning your overall wellness.
As a roundup, make sure to prioritize your mental health, get regular medical checkups, maintain a well-balanced diet, be physically active, engage in social and interactive activities, get enough sleep, and manage your finances. All of these tips should help you maintain a healthy lifestyle after service.