Don’t worry, meditation doesn’t always mean sitting on the ground cross-legged, wearing stretchy pants, and chanting. It can actually take many forms, and your “sessions” can happen in whatever places, positions, and clothes feel most comfortable to you — including in your office at work, while you’re walking or running, or as you’re laying down in bed.
All you need is a place to clear your head and a commitment to focusing your mind. Given that many Veterans separate from the military with anxiety, research shows that meditation can have a positive impact on your reintegration into your family or community.
That’s because it can help you recognize your emotions and thoughts without reacting negatively to them. Meditation can also help you respond more thoughtfully to your emotions without impulse and overreaction, which provides a feeling of comfort and control. Try meditating for 5 to 10 minutes each day to start, and explore apps and other tools to keep your momentum going.
You may be surprised to learn that you can often reduce your anxious thoughts by writing them down. Try using an empty notebook or a journal from the store with pre-written daily prompts. If your racing thoughts tend to flare up in public settings, consider a pocket-sized notepad where you can jot quick ideas — getting them out of your head. Taking 10 to 15 minutes a day to write down your anxieties, goals, and thoughts will help you feel more organized, clear-headed, and able to handle your transition.
SLOWING DOWN YOUR MEALS
American culture — and especially the military — tends to promote working through lunches, which doesn’t let you truly enjoy each meal. Taking the time to savor the flavors of your food and creating a positive environment at home during meals will help you build relationships with peers and family, as well as calm your body and mind. Know too that bonding time is especially important for everyone when you’re all adjusting to your new post-military home and life.
During your time in the military, a routine was set for you to help you thrive. Now that you’re out, take the time each day to devote to self-care. This will let you make sure all your basic needs are met and that you won’t burn out. Whether you dedicate time to fitness, playing with your dog, relaxing with your family, or a mid afternoon nap, a routine of self-care will help you feel refreshed and ready to take on the transition into civilian life.
In a world surrounded by technology, spending some time outdoors each day will help you stay in the moment and clear your head. Whether you choose to go for daily walks, fill your home with plants to bring in a fresh feeling, or tend to a small garden in your backyard, these activities will bring you closer to nature. If there are moments when you feel anxious, consider a trip to the local park or lake to free your mind.
Recognize that transitioning out of the military can be a stressful time. Commit to starting each day with an appreciation for one to three aspects of your life that you are grateful for, which will set the mood for the rest of your day. Even on challenging days, there is always something to be thankful for.