The life of service members is not easy. They must push their limits while training, live and brave the harshness of foreign soil, and experience all the rigors their service offers.
After departing from active service, as a veteran, your life changes completely. Civilian life needs you to readjust your lifestyle. However, creating new habits after living a tough military life is complicated. The disciplined routines and physical burdens of military training often contrast with civilian life’s flexibility and sedentary nature. Therefore, veterans often encounter difficulties adjusting to new schedules, managing stress, and finding purpose outside the military.
However, adopting a healthy lifestyle is crucial for veterans’ overall well-being. Establishing healthy lifestyle habits helps ensure a stable and happy post-military life. Here are some tips for veterans to look after their health and wellness.
1. Undergo regular health checkups
As a veteran, you must undergo regular medical checkups and screenings to assess your overall health periodically. During these examinations, ensure the doctor conducts physical assessments, requests blood tests, and discusses your work and medical history. Asking for a work history is necessary because service members often work at dangerous locations during their deployment. So, they may get exposed to harmful elements such as toxins present in water or minerals such as asbestos. For instance, veterans who served at Camp Lejeune might have been exposed to toxic chemicals leeched into the water supply.
Periodic screenings can help detect early signs of diseases or common conditions after exposure to toxins. Additionally, their diagnosis of a serious illness also makes them eligible to seek compensation.
If you worked at Camp Lejeune from 1953 to 1987 and spent at least 30 days, you can find out if you are at risk of any disease and receive compensation for your exposure to waterborne contaminants.
Besides other health screenings, veterans can also ask their healthcare practitioners to conduct screenings for regular vision and hearing. It helps detect and address any impairments or changes.
2. Manage chronic pain and injuries
Military service is well-known for its physical demands. Therefore, veterans often struggle to manage lingering pain and injuries. Effective management of such issues is crucial for improving quality of life and overall well-being. Some ways to manage chronic pain and injuries are:
Consult healthcare professional: After service, if you experience recurring pain in your muscles and joints, consult with healthcare professionals specializing in pain management. Professional help is required to know the underlying causes and receive accurate diagnoses and personalized treatment plans.
Make healthy lifestyle changes: In addition to seeking professional help for managing your pain and injuries, you must also make lifestyle changes. Focus on practicing good posture, adopting ergonomic practices, exercising, and avoiding repetitive movements or overexertion.
Use assistive aids: If your injury is serious and does not let you walk comfortably, use assistive devices or adaptive equipment, such as braces, canes, walkers, and ergonomic aids. These tools help you walk, reduce strain and improve daily functioning.
Work with physical therapists: You can also work with physical therapists to develop tailored exercise programs to improve strength, mobility, and litheness. Physical therapies can also include modalities like heat or cold therapy, massage, and ultrasound.
Use medication: Medication is another way to treat pain and physical discomforts post-military service. Ask your healthcare provider to prescribe medications to alleviate chronic pain and manage associated conditions. Always follow the dosage requirements for an efficient and speedy recovery.
3. Keep stress at bay
Veterans feel unique challenges during their service; stress is a common by-product. After their active military service ends, veterans need to try to keep stress at bay with the help of various stress management interventions and techniques. Some techniques for containing and managing stress are:
Relaxation techniques: Besides exercise, there are relaxation techniques you can practice. Deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation are some relaxation techniques that reduce the physical and mental manifestations of stress.
Practice Meditation: Mindfulness meditation is a powerful stress management approach. It involves focusing attention on the present moment without judgment. Mindfulness cultivates a sense of calm, makes you light, and increases self-awareness.
Dedicate a few minutes to sitting quietly, concentrating on your breath, and discerning your thoughts without getting caught up in them.
Regular exercise: Exercise increases endorphin production, promotes better sleep, and improves overall mood. You can engage in any exercise for effective stress management, such as cardiovascular activities like running or cycling and strength training or participating in team sports.
Express your thoughts: To release the pressure of your thoughts, adopt interesting activities such as painting or playing a musical tool. Doing such things is a great way to express your feelings.
4. Seek help for mental health issues
Seeking professional help regarding mental health is important because veterans often experience traumatic events during their service. As a result, they may experience issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and adjustment disorders.
Seeking help in this situation is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it is brave of you to confront your challenges head-on and to proactively move towards healing and well-being.
Mental health professionals with experience in working with veterans can provide valuable guidance and support. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or specialized treatments like eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) are great for addressing trauma-related stress.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also offers mental health programs, including individual counseling and focused treatment options for veterans. Contact your local VA facility or the Veterans Crisis Line for immediate assistance.
5. Develop a Healthy Sleep Routine
Sleep is important as it helps with adequate mental and physical recovery after living a tough military life. Getting enough sleep keeps you energetic and vigorous, cures stress, and improves focus.
Make sure to wake up and go to bed at the same time daily so that your body acclimates with your sleep routine. A consistent sleep schedule promotes better sleep quality.
Ensure the bedroom is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. You can use curtains, blinds, or sleep masks to block out excess light. To minimize noise distractions, you can use earplugs or white noise machines.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle after retirement is extremely important as your life changes drastically after leaving acting military duty. Now you are forced to train or stay active. Therefore, the responsibility to keep yourself healthy falls on you.
You must take a proactive approach towards your health and wellness, exercise regularly, attend medical checkups, eat a healthy diet, and manage your stress, among other things. Additionally, remember you are not alone in this journey, and there are people like you struggling with the same change as you do. Reach out to other service members to share your experience and get advice.