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

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