May 4, 2019

{Guest Post} Managing Stress as a Military Spouse

Managing Stress as a Military Spouse
Life as a military spouse is not easy. Being married to someone who serves in the military often means moving far away from your family, leaving behind friends and loved ones, building your own family far from your hometown and, often, doing it on your own while your spouse is deployed. The stress of being a military wife or husband is overwhelming for many and can lead to depression, anxiety, panic attacks or even agoraphobia.
In one study of more than 200 military spouses, it was revealed that 27 percent report significantly high-stress levels at any given time. Of them, 20 percent experience even higher, clinically significant stress levels. To put it simply, roughly one in four military spouses carries a heavy burden of stress every single day.
While many military spouses perceive these elevated stress levels as “normal,” they are unaware of how close they may be to developing serious emotional, physical or social distress. Many experience clinically significant levels of stress without even realizing it.
As a military spouse, making time for yourself can be difficult–especially when your partner is deployed. You may feel like you are running your entire home on your own and barely have time to breathe, let alone enjoy “me time.” Taking time for yourself, though, is crucial when it comes to managing stress as a military spouse. Keep reading to learn a bit more about how to manage military spouse stress.
Be Mindful of When You Are Feeling Stressed
Stress is such a common part of being a military spouse that many people live with it without even realizing it. Be mindful of your feelings and emotions, and pay attention when you are feeling stressed. Learn to be especially aware of when you are nearing your breaking point.
Acknowledge that your role as a military wife or husband puts you under a tremendous amount of stress. Accept that you face challenges that people with spouses in other careers will never face. Understand that stress comes in many, many forms and that everyone experiences it differently. Be kind to yourself and don’t compare your feelings and emotions to anyone else’s. Recognize your own struggles and pay close attention to when you are feeling overly stressed out and make time to take care of yourself.
Make “Me Time” a Priority
As a military spouse, you may feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. It’s easy to get so caught up in caring for your home and your family that you forget to take care of yourself. Not taking time for yourself frequently leaves you feeling stressed and overwhelmed, though. No matter how hectic your schedule may be, you need to find or make time to take care of yourself. Self-care is important for everyone, but it’s especially crucial when you are dealing with the stress of being a military spouse.
If you enjoy crafting, it can serve as an excellent way to decompress and unwind. For example, working with beads and stones for handmade jewelry as well as home d├ęcor allows you to escape from day-to-day stress for a while and enjoy making something with your own two hands. Knitting, painting and sculpting with clay are also great projects for military spouses. They don’t necessarily require a lot of space or supplies, so they work well for people who live in small homes and/or relocate frequently.
Using your me time to exercise is a healthy way to deal with stress, too. Going for a walk or run, lifting weights, doing yoga or even following along with your favorite exercise video gets your blood pumping and triggers your body to release feel-good endorphins that combat anxiety and depression, improve sleep and, of course, lower stress levels. Find a few types of exercises that you enjoy and make them a regular part of your routine. Trust us, you’ll start reaping the benefits right away!
Find a Support Group
Moving away from your family and friends may make you feel like you are alone, but you aren’t. Whether you are living on base or in a nearby community, there are likely several other military spouses who are struggling with many of the same emotions you are. You are far from alone and there are a lot of people out there who would love to provide a proverbial shoulder for you to lean on. Look into support groups in your area. Your installation’s Military and Family Support Center is a good place to find out about its resources for military spouses.
There are also support groups for military spouses online. They are great for people who are shy or struggle with social anxiety. They’re also a wonderful place to build relationships that you won’t have to leave behind the next time your spouse gets orders to relocate. Even if you never meet the members of the support group in person, they can provide you with the support you need to deal with life as a military spouse.
Know When to Ask for Help
If you wake up each day facing overwhelming stress, there is absolutely no shame in seeking professional help. Your job as a military spouse is an extremely difficult one. For many, the burden of carrying so much stress is simply too much to handle on their own. If you are feeling this way despite taking steps to stay active, enjoy hobbies and lean on others in your situation for support, consider speaking with a mental health professional.

Whether you find comfort in making beaded jewelry, exercising or meeting up with friends or you decide to meet with a counselor, there are several things you can do to manage your stress as a military spouse. Remember that your feelings are valid and your needs are important. Make time to take care of yourself. Being a military spouse is a hard job, but there are resources out there to help ensure your mental and emotional well-being. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Thank you to Brenda Kimble for writing this guest post. Brenda Kimble is the wife of a former Army Officer and current National Guard soldier and the mother of two daughters, a son, and a beagle named Duke! She loves writing, crafting, and spending time with her family in their hometown of Austin, TX. If you missed her other post click here: 3 flexible jobs for military

May 1, 2019

{Guest Post} 3 Flexible Jobs for Military Spouses

3 Flexible Jobs for Military Spouses
As a military spouse, you face challenges that most civilian families never have to worry about. While your spouse is working long hours, you are often left responsible for cooking, cleaning, paying bills and doing everything else necessary to run a home. If you have kids, you find yourself living like a single parent when your partner is deployed. Chances are, you don’t live anywhere near your family and lack a solid support system. On top of all that, you likely find yourself needing to move to a new city every few years.
With all of the challenges that military spouses face, it is no surprise that many struggle to build their own careers. When it seems like there are barely enough hours in the day to take care of your home and family, the idea of getting a job can appear downright ludicrous.
While being tied down to a traditional job might not be a good option for a military husband or wife, there are plenty of flexible opportunities that work remarkably well. Finding the right one means being able to earn extra money for your family while still being able to take care of everything at home. Keep reading to discover some flexible jobs for military spouses that will allow you to earn an income and feel great about contributing to your family financially.
Sell Arts & Crafts
If you are an artist or a crafter, start selling your creations for profit. You can work on projects at home during your spare time and sell them online to people around the world. When trying to come up with an idea of what to make, try to keep it relatively simple. If you live on base and have limited space, taking up furniture-making, for example, may not be a great option. Making beaded jewelry is a practical option that works well for military spouses. You don’t need a lot of space to work, and you don’t need to store any particularly large supplies. Since jewelry-making supplies don’t take up much room, they’re also easy to pack and move when you relocate.
Once you’ve settled on an idea, open up an Etsy shop. It takes some time to build up a strong business, but selling on Etsy (and similar sites) is easy and convenient. You could also look into selling your products at craft and vendor fairs in your local community. Just about every city has events from time to time where local artists and crafters can sell their handmade creations. Setting up a booth is a good way to earn some money, build awareness of your products and maybe even make new local friends.
Working on arts and crafts can lower stress levels, too, making this money-making opportunity even more beneficial for military spouses.
Seek Out Remote Employment Opportunities
More and more businesses are turning to the Internet to hire remote employees for a wide range of positions. They outsource things like customer care, data entry, software programming, administrative support, etc. to remote workers who, in turn, complete their assignments from just about anywhere. Xerox, for example, has a Heroes@Home program that hires military spouses for at-home positions. Several other major corporations have programs for military spouses, too. 
Online education is booming right now and provides amazing opportunities for military spouses. If you have the right credentials and experience, you can teach English, math and a wide range of other subjects from home. In many cases, you don’t even need to have a teaching degree in order to get started. If you have a special talent or skill, you could even start making your own courses on sites like Teachable.
Start Your Own Online Business
Thanks to the Internet, starting your own business is a solid option for anyone who has the drive to put in the effort to be successful. If you know your way around the web, there are countless online businesses you can start. Have you always had a knack for writing? If so, you might make a great content writer or content writer. Businesses always need fresh blog posts and articles for their websites, but many lack the time to write them on their own. Starting your own writing service can be quite lucrative, and since you can work anywhere with an Internet connection, it’s a great option for military spouses.
If you love spending time scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, you might be awesome at social media management. As a social media manager, you work with brands and influential people to create and curate content for their social media profiles. You might also interact with their followers, work on paid advertisements and more. Being a social media manager means you can literally get paid to be on Facebook all day. What’s not to love about that?
Virtual assisting (VA) is another online option that works well for many military spouses. As a VA, you might help your client manage their social media, write blog posts, schedule appointments, transcribe files, design graphics or handle all sorts of other tasks. You get to decide what services to offer and work with clients who have needs that fit your skill set.
As a military spouse, working at a “normal” job isn’t always an option. Your schedule is extremely full and you might find yourself relocating every few years. Instead of bouncing from one job to the next or giving up on finding work altogether, consider one of the more flexible options listed above. Whether you work for yourself or find a job working remotely for another corporation, you will be able to earn an income without sacrificing time with your family. Start doing some research to find the opportunity that’s right for you today!
Thank you to Brenda Kimble for writing this guest post. Brenda Kimble is the wife of a former Army Officer and current National Guard soldier and the mother of two daughters, a son, and a beagle named Duke! She loves writing, crafting, and spending time with her family in their hometown of Austin, TX. Look for her next post very soon!

February 20, 2019

{Guest Post} 22 Things Military Personnel Wish Civilians Knew

22 Things Military Personnel Wish Civilians Knew

Thank you to Benji Menez, Director of Marketing, Concealment Express for writing this guest post. He wrote another informative post on the blog, Transitioning from the Military to Civilian Life.

There are many misconceptions about various aspects of the military that civilians either don’t know or don’t understand. It’s a complicated topic and, unless you have a friend or relative in the military, there is no reason you would have a clear idea of all the ins and outs of military life.

While all civilians appreciate what service members and their families go through to do their jobs, they often have a very superficial grasp of what exactly is involved. Let’s eliminate the confusion and get some facts straight about military service members and their families. Here are 22 things military personnel wish civilians knew:

1.     While we did voluntarily choose military life and are proud to serve our country in whatever capacity we can, that does not mean we completely understood the ramifications of our choice when it was made. The only way to understand it fully is to live it. Everyone involved with the military learns something new every day.
2.     Being away from your spouse or family for a week or two is not the same as being separated for a year or more. Missing someone, whether it is for a month or three years, is very difficult. The longer a person is away, the harder the situation can be.
3.     It is understood that familial relationships can be challenging and being around your in-laws or siblings can be difficult and antagonistic at times. However, military members miss being close to family. Cherish the relationships you have while you have them.
4.     Service members and families often move a lot. This provides opportunities to live in some amazing places many individuals will never get to see. It is hard, though, to make friends and maintain those friendships since we will likely be moving within a short time. Make an effort anyway. We’re pretty good at long-distance communication.
5.     When a service member is deployed, they are gone for the entire placement. They do not get to come home for holidays, special occasions, or the birth of a child. This is one of the hardest things we experience.
6.     Not all military families have money problems just as not all civilians are financially strapped. We would rather have a friend or a recommendation about a reliable sitter than a monetary donation.
7.     Divorce is not as common among military spouses as you may have been led to believe, and infidelity is the exception instead of the norm. While we do get lonely when a loved one is deployed, particularly for an extended period, reunions are great ways to fall in love all over again.
8.     Not all military personnel are called soldiers. Members of the Navy are sailors, Air Force members are airmen, soldiers are in the Army, Coast Guard members are Coasties, and Marines are in the Marine Corps. Using the appropriate terminology is appreciated, as we are proud of the branch we serve. If you are unsure how to refer to us, just ask.
9.   We appreciate your acts of kindness to our family during our deployment. Receiving your calls to ask if you can babysit, go to the store, mow the yard, or deliver a hot meal is appreciated.
10.  Our housing is not free. Service members receive a housing allowance as part of their earnings that can be used for living on a military installation or in a standard neighborhood setting.
11.  We have to pay taxes, just like you do.
12.  When a member of the military marries a civilian, know that we are the same people we were before. Our lives are just a little different. We rely on family and friends just like you do and may need even a little more support.
13.  Returning home from a deployment can be challenging for our family, and there may be many adjustments to make for all family members. This does not mean the service member suffers from PTSD. It simply means that it takes time to get used to being home again and for the family to have the service member back in the home after a long absence.
14.  Children in a military family are the “new kids” a lot. This can be very difficult for them, particularly within the first several months at a new school. Setting up a playdate or introducing your kids to ours can alleviate both our and our children’s fears and provide a better environment for adjusting to a new situation. Most children in military families will attend up to a dozen different schools before they graduate from high school.
15.  Not all military personnel hold the same political views. Our opinions are sometimes even more varied than civilians.
16.  You can count on us in emergencies. We have a great deal of experience in handling the unexpected and are usually quite good at it.
17.  When in the United States, military personnel are not required to have a license for a firearm in concealed carry holsters. We are exempt.
18.  Service members are also permitted to conceal carry in IWB holsters, Kydex holsters or other holsters on U.S. military installations.
19.  We appreciate your encouragement and support. Don’t feel sorry for us because we are a military family. We chose this life and are proud to serve our country.
20.  Just as there are many different types of people in your neighborhood, the same diversity exists in the military. We have our share of individuals who are smart, kind, strict, religious, egotistical, and romantic.
21.  Military spouses must often work just like civilian spouses; however, they often receive less compensation and are underemployed. Our families have extensive experience in many different fields and can be an asset to any company.
22.  It can be challenging to be a military family, but we do what we need to for it to work.

Final Thoughts
Military families live interesting and enjoyable lives and face many of the same issues civilians do. They have the added challenges of deployments, moving often, and long separations, but they also get to know remarkable people and visit unique places around the world.

As part of the military family, we want civilians to realize that we are people much like you. Our friends, family, social interactions, church, and favorite spots to go out for a bite are important parts of our everyday lives. Our military vocation, at the very least, has given us the clarity to appreciate those simple things.