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Caring for Yourself While Supporting Your Service Member

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at peaceDeployment and reintegration can be extremely difficult times for a family. If you are the spouse of a service member, a lot of your energy will be spent supporting your loved one. However, it is important that you take care of yourself as well.

Staying Healthy

  • Eat well. Be conscious about choosing foods that will give you nutritious benefits and energy. Place an emphasis on healthy fats, proteins, and complex carbohydrates, while avoiding simple sugars. Also be sure to drink plenty of water.
  • Sleep Enough. Keeping a consistent sleep pattern helps your brain to fully function. While you sleep, your body will strengthen and recover from the day. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body responds negatively with side effects both physical and mental.
  • Stay Active.  It can be hard to find the time to exercise, but a little bit goes a long way. Just 30 minutes a day a few days a week can make a big difference. Consider joining a fitness class or sports team, because they can help you stay fit while augmenting your support network.

Taking Time for Yourself

  • Hobbies: Take time out to meditate, read, garden, paint, or do anything that pleases you.
  • Support Network: Make an effort to spend time with friends and family outside your home.
  • Community: Volunteer at your favorite organization or charity.

Openly Communicating

It is important for you and your service member to express your feelings and thoughts to relieve stress and improve your relationship. Here are some tips for better communication:

  • Don’t interrupt or develop a bad attitude
  • Use detail in your examples.
  • Be patient and show restraint
  • Try not to use “You” statements, which blame. Instead, use gentle “I” phrases. For example, “I feel out of the loop” is better than “You leave me out.”

Asking for Help

It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. In fact, it takes a lot of strength to get there. You are not alone, and will be surprised at how your support network will step up to help out with errands, meals, babysitting, etc.  Here are some tips on how to ask for help:

  • Be firm. Have a task in mind for the person, along with a day and time.
  • Ask the appropriate person—is one friend really good with kids? Does another like to cook?
  • Ask at the right time, when things are calm and manageable for all parties involved.
  • Avoid asking the same person over and over again.