STRESS IN THE MILITARY FAMILY
Being a military family can afford pride in serving one’s country as well as provide many rich and new experiences through mobility. Military families also can experience problems particular to their unique lifestyle. Pressures and frustrations often result from:
· Lengthy deployments or separations
· Frequent re-locations
· Career changes at retirement
· Single parenting during soldier’s absence
· Separation from friends and family
· A strained military budget
· Constant adjustment to varying duty scheduled
Nearly every military family has difficulty coping with problems from time to time. Pressures can become so great that many areas of life can be affected. For example, father’s absence may have mother emotionally and physically drained in her role of single parent, while the children are having the same adjustment problem expressed through disciplinary problems while father is gone. The match of an overworked and drained mother with unruly children trying to test new limits can easily escalate into a frightful and destructive lifestyle. This is a strong signal that help outside the family is needed.
The military family can help themselves through these stressors unique to their lifestyle. For example, when father is away from home for extended periods, it is important to maintain caring and discipline for the children as if dad were home. Children may try to take advantage of possible new freedoms with father gone, and a continuing stable home life is important for their psychological adjustment. Consistent rules, a consistent daily household schedule and special time for the children to be with mother are important parts of minimizing the stress of father’s absence.
Mother and children need to keep social activities alive while father is gone. Providing regular outlets for contact with other people fulfills basic needs for comfort and stability. For example, the military spouse may feel overworked with additional worries while the sponsor is gone, but time set aside for visiting friends or relatives, going out to enjoy a movie or dinner, or becoming involved in local activities, will help immensely. Your Family Support Group can be of great assistance in alleviating the stress of a separation or deployment.
STRESS MANAGEMENT HINTS
· Get up earlier to allow more time before starting the days work.
· Prioritize what is really critical and pace yourself accordingly.
· Be realistic and kind to yourself when making your ”to do” list.
· Spend your leisure time with enthusiastic, upbeat friends. Since many of your friends will be in the same position, you should be enthusiastic and upbeat for them.
· Make a list of your “hyper” habits, share it with a close friend to check for accuracy and completeness, contract to change an item or two.
· Take a little time before you enter your work place, pause and notice what kind of day it is.
· During the day, rest quietly for 5 minutes or take a brief walk.
· Say “no” when you need to.
· Ask for help when you need it, whether it’s time away from the children, a counseling session, or a real vacation.
· Write yourself a note and place it where you will read it, schedule treats for yourself on your calendar.
· Focus on immediate or short-term goals that are attainable.
· Collect appreciation that is due. Hear praise and thank you.
· Take care of yourself when you are “down and out”, play your favorite song, see a movie, give up housework for the day, etc
· Analyze you moods, energy, and time. Are you down at certain times of the day, week or month? Plan and prepare.
· Use relaxation, meditation, music, religion, nature, or whatever to re-energize yourself.
· Pay attention to your diet, sleep, and general health.
· Exercise. If you don’t have the time, ask yourself if you have the time to be sick, depressed, or sluggish.
BE GOOD TO YOURSELF…
YOU DESERVE IT!