July 13, 2017

5 Stressful Things About Military Life (& How to Deal with Them)

5 Stressful Things About Military Life (& How to Deal with Them)
By SpouseLink.org Editor

Ever feel like life is moving around you in different directions… because it is? When you’re part of a military family that’s constantly in motion, it’s easy to get caught up in all the stresses of your daily life that are whirling around you. So how do you pull yourself together to go with the flow? How do you prepare for the next adventure ahead of you? Here are a few ideas for you to help make life a little easier during tough times.

  1. Moving into a new home. You just got your home looking exactly the way you have been wanting it to look… and now you’ve got to pack it up and go through the process all over again somewhere else.

    Solution: Remember, life is an adventure and home is where the heart is. Think of your PCS moves as a chance to start over, or simply to try something new. Go modern. Go shabby chic. This is your chance to experiment. Choose new colors. Rearrange the furniture. Get excited about it, rather than thinking it’s a drag. Use the move as a chance to get rid of things you no longer need, want or like. Connect with your inner child and dream up all the possibilities of the new place you’re going to. Look ahead, not backward.
  2. Getting to know a new community. You love that little restaurant by the water. And your favorite shop is not a chain you can find anywhere else. Now you’re heading to a place you’ve never been before, and you may be wondering how you’ll manage a language barrier… or just the climate.

    Solution: Don’t worry about the unknown. Instead, think of the move as an opportunity to get first-hand insights into unfamiliar customs and locations. Consider yourself simply a long-term traveler, a tourist who is just passing through and enjoying the scenery. Sure, you’ll have to set down some roots while you’re there, but if you don’t like the location, you’ll do it knowing it’s not forever. And if you do like the location… you can always come back to it later, should you move away again. Plus, you’ll know all about it by then, and you’ll be able to share your experiences with others who, just like you, aren’t familiar with the area. Yet.
  3. Finding new friends and keeping old ones. Have a friend you liked to hang out with every weekend… and now don’t get to see them anymore? Meanwhile, you’re living in a new location with people who don’t seem to accept you, or who you can’t find a way to make a connection.

    Solution: Don’t keep your thoughts to yourself. Make sure your dear old bestie knows how much they mean to you and keep them close through emails or txts, or through the SpouseLink App (created specifically for the military community). Bring up the topic of making/keeping friends with new acquaintances who have likely gone through what you’re going through themselves. Ask them about the challenges they faced and how they got past them. Discussing the topic of making and leaving friends behind with others is an easy way to make and keep friendships. You’re never alone.
  4. Dealing with deployments. Your loved one is leaving. Or is already gone. Again.

    Solution: Stay positive. Count down the days on your calendar, but… don’t dwell there. Instead, spend the time doing things you enjoy. Focus on your health and well-being. Focus on your kids’ activities. Spend time with people who make you feel good. Don’t think depressing thoughts like, “I always have to do this all by myself.” Or, “I wish [Loved One] was here to share this moment.” Flip the switch and think: “I’m so proud of myself for being able to do this on my own.” And, “I can’t wait to tell [Loved One] about this!” By keeping self-defeating thoughts at bay you will stay in good physical and mental health so that when your loved one returns, they will be coming home to someone who is happy and has been as active and engaged in daily life activities as they have.
  5. Switching your kids’ school. Feeling bad about making your kids leave their school activities and friends behind? Worried that putting them into a new school system won’t give them the same learning opportunities as their current school?  

    Solution: Two things to remember: 1) kids are resilient, and 2) school systems have experienced many, many student transitions. They know what to do… even if they don’t fully comprehend what it’s like for your kids or your family. There is help for you if you need it. Be sure to contact the school in your new community as far in advance of your move as you can. Talk to the staff about your concerns. Fill out registration forms early. Collect any other necessary data in one file (immunization details, etc.), so it’s ready to go. Join the PTA so you will meet other parents who know the ins and outs of the school. Encourage your kids to take part in after-school activities, sports and anything else they’re interested in. In short: Keep life normal for them.
Still stressed?!
It’s okay to let out a good strong primal scream every once in a while. Probably not in the presence of other people who you’d have to explain yourself to. But… When you get your mind worked up about things, your body will feel it and you may soon find yourself with aches and pains and sleepless nights from keeping things pent up.
When that happens, take a cue from Elsa and just let it go. A scream (or aerobic exercise, or a good cry, or writing out all of your feelings, or taking a daytrip to some place that isn’t on your normal travel path…) can help you work the negativity out of your body so that you are feeling better, thinking more clearly and moving forward.
Other ways to de-stress:
  • Take a walk.
  • Have lunch with a friend who makes you laugh.
  • Treat yourself to a massage.
  • Order takeout for dinner.
  • Take a long bubble bath.
  • Go see a movie.
  • Put on music and dance around the house.
  • Read a book.
  • Snuggle with your pet, or visit a pet store.
  • Sit on a park bench and watch the people who go by.
  • Head to your favorite store and splurge on a purchase.

These kinds of simple techniques can help you get into the right frame of mind so you can handle the stressful situations in healthy ways that will truly help you feel better. Nothing stressful about that!

AAFMAA is the longest-standing not-for-profit association that empowers current and former military with affordable financial solutions including, life insurance, investment management, and survivor assistance. AAFMAA is also the creator of SpouseLink, a free website for Military Spouses that was created to support, inform and inspire users with a variety of content–anything from pop culture to important Military information.

Cathleen Karlsson is the daughter of a retired Navy Captain. Growing up, she lived with her family in five Midwestern and East Coast states before earning her B.A. in fiction at the University of Pittsburgh. She is an experienced, award-winning marketing writer who has worked in several advertising and online media roles, including her current role as the SpouseLink.org Editor. In her “spare time,” Cathleen volunteers with a homeless animal shelter and serves as the vice president of the board for a ballet company. She also enjoys dancing, sewing and crafting, and spending time with her young daughter.


  1. Especially liked the solution to the problem of moving to a new house. I remember my childhood and similar trips of my family. These were not the best times for me, but it tempered my character, which very well helps me now. All the relocations were carried out with the help of such companies https://www.moveprola.com/sherman-oaks-movers/, which gave me time to say goodbye to my friends, since it was important to me.

    1. Thank you for sharing and taking the time to comment.

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