Transitioning out of the military can be an exciting and challenging time. Choosing where to live, what your next career might be and what the next chapter of your life will look like can be overwhelming.
As you transition out of the military, staying mentally and emotionally healthy is important. Healthy Veterans make choices and pursue healthy living habits that can reduce stress and anxiety during times of uncertainty.
If you haven’t taken steps to pursue healthy living, now is the perfect time to look for ways to improve your health. Here are a few of our best suggestions from healthy habits that will help prepare and protect you for transitioning to civilian life.
Coming out of the military, many Veterans struggle with the lack of routine and structure in the civilian world. You may not have built-in time for exercise or downtime. This lack of structure may even leave you feeling unproductive and anxious.
One healthy habit that you as a Veteran must build is prioritizing your self-care routine. Building a self-care routine can be as simple as focusing on the activities that are restorative for you. Some suggestions of healthy living self-care practices include daily exercise, getting out in nature and socializing with friends and family.
In addition to some of these basic self-care routines, you should also look into pursuing new and healthy hobbies. If you didn’t have time to develop hobbies while in the service, now is the perfect time to discover some. Daily walks, hiking, biking, gardening, reading, and woodworking are just a few examples of activities that can be enjoyable. If you’re not sure where to start with a hobby, try taking a class in something that interests you. Many organizations from art studios to gyms offer free trial classes.
The military lifestyle offers regular routines for service-members and their families. Therefore, once you have successfully transitioned out of the military, establishing new routines and practices is critical. One key practice is getting organized by adding structure to your day. Structure can be added through things like using a planner, setting goals, making to-do lists and setting short and long-term goals.
Daily meditation or prayer can also help reduce stress and anxiety during times of change. Journaling or writing about your experiences in the military can help you make sense of your past. It can also help you better cope with what you’re experiencing during the transition.
Your first year post-transition is a critical time to reconnect with immediate and extended family. Although it may seem awkward at first, it’s important to find things in common with your family if some connections have been lost.
For starters, try sitting down to dinner together. Plan some activities you can do together in advance. Take advantage of a more predictable schedule by scheduling times to reconnect. These routines can benefit both transitioning military members and their families.
If you find it difficult to reconnect, consider reaching out to a counselor or mental health professional who can help you establish healthy habits and ways of coping with stress. Research shows that people who stay connected or re-establish connections with loved ones tend to live longer, healthier lives.
Separating from the military is an important time in the lives of all Veterans. Seize the change as an opportunity to build a life that you love and are proud of. Visit our website for free resources for Veterans and more tips on living a healthy life post-transition.