Coming back to civilian life after serving in the military is tough. Each year, more than 200,000 service members get discharged.
Life outside the army is different. You no longer have a structured routine and have to adjust to a more slow-paced, homely living. One of the biggest challenges is, coming up with a healthy system that will help you get used to this new way of living.
You have to fight to make your identity outside your rank, address any mental health challenges, and above all, figure out ways you can keep yourself in top shape. From fixing your diet to exploring new hobbies, here are some ways you can enjoy your new life outside the armed forces:
- Get a medical consultation
During active duty, you may have worked in hazardous conditions such as performing surveillance in extreme weather and dealing with harmful chemicals and loud noises. This is especially the case if you served between 1930 and 1980 when asbestos-rich products were the norm in manufacturing weapons, bunkers, and ammunition. Consequently, exposing you to these harmful microscopic fibers. Asbestos tends to build up in your body. While you may not feel unwell immediately, this gradual accumulation of minute fibers will make itself known soon.
So when you finally retire, you should visit a doctor and learn about all the health complications you may have, including mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure. If you test positive for mesothelioma, you should look into treatment options. This aggressive disease can take a toll on your health, and the more you delay getting it looked at, it makes a recovery hard for you.
Being a veteran puts you at a particular advantage. You can access information via veteran mesothelioma resources and learn how the department of US Veterans Affairs can compensate you for this illness. You’ll be able to connect with a circle of doctors specializing in mesothelioma care. Moreover, a hospital visit can help you manage your wounds, such as unhealed injuries you may have sustained on duty.
- Have a good diet
A healthy diet helps you stay in shape and prevent avoidable illnesses like high cholesterol from affecting you. Lighter meals are also easier to digest and give you the strength you need to go about your day. If you’re unsure about what diet to adopt, look up the nutritional values of different cuisines and find one that suits you. For instance, if you enjoy consuming high protein, you may want more meat and lentils in your diet.
You should also add more fruits and vegetables to your diet since they have essential vitamins like Vitamin A, which is good for your vision, teeth, and skin. If you indulged in alcohol, go easy on it. Hydration is equally essential for you too. Try drinking at least eight glasses of water every day. While this new routine can be hard to keep up with, you can follow recipes such as tossing together an easy Greek salad or drizzling your pasta in olive oil.
- Rekindle bonds
Serving in the armed forces may have kept you from your family for a long time. When you return home, it’s natural to feel disconnected from them. But, you need to work hard to reestablish your relationships again. Social bonds are beneficial for your mental and emotional well-being. You get a boost of serotonin and dopamine, which make you feel good about being home.
But if you continue staying estranged from your loved ones, it can fill you with feelings of resentment and isolation. The best way to talk to your relatives is to start small. Find common grounds to talk about, like current affairs, inquiring about their routine, or even discussing sports. You can build on a conversation and share a good talk with your loved ones. Inviting your family for dinner, catching a quick game of golf with your friends, and taking your partner out to dance collectively give you a sense of belonging. Don’t be afraid to connect with your vulnerable side.
- Exercise your brain
Your brain needs to get engaged for a fulfilling life. Sitting idle and indulging in mindless entertainment can get exhausting. But when you give your brain the fodder it needs to stay active, it can help you think better, find ways to remain optimistic, and help you enjoy your retired life. Reading books is an excellent way to keep yourself busy. You can also listen to audiobooks if you enjoy listening more than the written word.
Games like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and chess are also good for you. If you want to challenge yourself to more advanced games, look into online mind teasers and try solving them. Additionally, journaling helps you organize your thoughts and give them more structure. Writing is also therapeutic, giving you an outlet to pour all your frustrations onto paper instead of bottling up your emotions.
When you feel ready, try checking in with a counselor. More than 40% of veterans have a mental health condition. These can be a source of aggravation for you which a licensed expert can help you sort out.
- Have a physical routine
You may be used to high-intensity workout sessions back in the army. However, trying those military drills again is not advisable as a civilian. These techniques are dangerous without supervision, and if you’re shouldering an injury, it can make your condition worse. You should pick a regime that suits your environment and mind your physical limitations.
Places like gyms and yoga centers can help you find your momentum. A trainer will outline a workout for you that addresses all your troubled zones and help you maintain your weight. On the other hand, yoga instructors may work on problems in your muscles, calm down any body ache you have, and help you fix your posture. You can also explore avenues like aerobics, tai chi, and swimming if you want more variety in your routine. Burning calories and sweating is an excellent way to release your pent-up energy. You also get the space to think, focus, and self-reflect.
- Join a veterans support group
Your experience as a veteran is unique. The challenges you face and the hurdles you put yourself through are not relatable to the common folk. So if you’re having a hard time relaxing at home, find the adjustment period difficult, or need to speak your mind, look toward veteran support groups.
Talking to other retired military employees makes it easier to adjust to the new life, relay your past and admit your guilt. This can be cathartic and help you pave a path towards forgiveness and self-love. When you’re agitated in your skin, it’s hard to form meaningful relationships. But when you find your people and lean on them for support. It can help you get better.
Coming home as a military person is akin to entering a new phase in your life. You’re bidding farewell to the structured army routine you enjoyed and must start from scratch again. So start by looking into a doctor and getting updated about your health. Adopting a healthy diet also helps you improve your lifestyle. Your family also needs a slice of your time, so learn to share yourself more. Don’t forget to engage your brain and keep busy with new activities. Try your hand at suitable physical regimes which manage your weight and help you take care of your body. Feeling lonely and disengaged with your family is natural, but if you let it persist, it can consume you. So, look into veteran support groups that can help you express your inner monologue with no fear.