Coming home from active duty is not an easy adjustment. You have to give up the stern and strict routine you followed in the military and get used to a slower pace of life. And this sudden change in the atmosphere may make you feel tired and emotionally distressed and become a source of anxiety. Likewise, you may also feel the after-effects of serving on duty. These include experiencing PTSD, intense body aches, and dealing with wounds that may not have healed completely.
There is no denying that serving in the military is emotionally, physically, and mentally draining. Therefore, you have to build yourself up from scratch and learn to embrace a fulfilling life again. The only way you can do this is by taking care of yourself; here’s how you do this:
1. Check In With A Doctor
Getting injured or sustaining unusual wounds is not common among army officers. You may be dealing with specific ailments of joint aches, sprains, scarring tissues, and even cases of partial deafness. You’ll learn the extent of your injuries by getting a complete evaluation. Certain conditions may be benign without expressing symptoms, but getting them treated before they become active and spread around is a good idea. If you served in the army around the 80s, there is one more illness you need to keep an eye out for.
This is because military officials in the 1980s used bunkers lined with asbestos. While this microfiber is harmless in small quantities, continuous exposure can lead to aggressive cancer called mesothelioma. This disease is expensive and dangerous to treat, so the veteran center has taken it upon itself to offer you certain benefits to combat this illness. To help you get treated, you may receive certain monetary aid and a network of doctors willing to look after you at a much more affordable cost. So, don’t hesitate to get yourself checked, go through the necessary tests prescribed to you by your doctor and start your treatment immediately.
2. Get Into The Habit Of Exercising
Exercising helps keep you in shape, build stamina, and tone your muscles. When you were in the military, you may have had to put up with some strict fitness regime to stay fit. To maintain this fitness, you need to start exercising more. Make sure you begin your regime with easy-to-do moves before taking on harder ones. You need to give your body time to re-adjust and adapt to your new lifestyle.
Start by doing simple routines like brisk walking for thirty minutes; once you can easily cross the thirty-minute mark without feeling breathless, incorporate light jogging into your walk. You can enroll in yoga and aerobic classes if you want to exercise in a group setting. Other options include going to the gym and asking an instructor to guide you.
3. Sleep Plenty Through The Night
Army officers are not used to sleeping enough most of the time. You need to discontinue this habit and get your sleep. Sleep deprivation can make you sick, impact your brain activity, and make you prone to headaches. Therefore, you should strive to get at least eight hours of sleep.
If you cannot fall asleep, you may need to figure out your bedtime routine. If your bed is uncomfortable, purchase a memory foam mattress and get comfortable pillows that are cozy to lie down on. You can also try showering and drinking chamomile tea before bedtime. It will take a few attempts before you find your sleeping schedule. But if you have insomnia symptoms, you’ll need to know to visit a sleep specialist.
4. A Good Diet
A well-balanced diet is essential for your physical and mental well-being. Eating healthy food encourages the bacteria in your gut to release serotonin and dopamine, which make you feel good. But, if you focus on eating greasy meals that are empty calories, not only will you put on weight, but digesting this meal can cause your gut to inflame. Hence, talk to your nutritionist and find the best diet for your system. Generally, you should go easy on the carbs and focus on a protein-rich diet.
Your body needs all the crucial vitamins and minerals that a good diet gives you, and retirement is the ideal time to experiment with dishes and cook nutritious meals for yourself. Also, being in the army, you may be used to eating military food rations (MRE) so allow yourself time to get used to larger meals.
5. Seek Help For Your Mental Health
According to a 2020 survey, more than 80% of US veterans and active duty service officer experience PTSD. Your time in the army may have left you with lasting scars. These may be because of the horrors you witnessed or the severe trauma you had to go through while on active duty. Along with symptoms of PTSD, you may also have anxiety, panic attacks, and night terrors, which can weigh heavily on your mental health. Unfortunately, none of these ailments go away on their own.
Ignoring and repressing how you feel will only backfire on you and worsen your health. So look into therapy and counseling to seek help for your turbulent thoughts. It will elevate your well-being when you get the space to talk, openly discuss your motions, and learn ways to cope with common triggers. Mental health providers can also help you make sense of your situation and provide practical suggestions that make it easier for you to handle your thoughts.
Signing off from the military and coming home can be a difficult adjustment period for you. Serving in the army can leave you with mental and physical scars you need to address and work on immediately. Getting used to civilian life is a gradual but necessary process. To make this journey bearable for you, it would help you check in with a doctor and learn how well you are faring.
You need to catch up on your sleep and maintain your fitness regime, so find a routine you can follow and seek help if you find it hard to sleep. Take retirement as an opportunity to build up a healthy diet and start eating nutritious meals that keep you in shape and put you in a good mood. Lastly, when it comes to your mental health, you don’t have to suffer alone. There are counselors and therapists to look after you and teach you coping mechanisms to prevent common triggers from impacting you.