Being a military wife isn’t easy. Long hours and even longer deployments, constant moves… We make adjustments and soldier on, but that doesn’t mean the stress doesn’t affect us.
According to a recent study done by the University of North Carolina, wives whose husbands deployed for more than 11 months are 24 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety and 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed with acute stress or sleep problems than those whose husbands stayed home.
So how can we beat the statistics? We have to be intentional about taking care of ourselves. Here are some tips and ideas for beating the deployment blues:
No one wants to cook for one and the kids just want macaroni and cheese, again. But resist the urge to have a bowl of cereal for dinner tonight. While not a cure for depression, eating a balanced diet can help you feel better. WebMD says that getting the daily value of Vitamin D (600 IU) increases the serotonin level in your brain and high protein foods, such as tuna, increase the chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, which can help you concentrate and boost your energy.
According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise is more than just good for your body; it is also good for your mind. Exercising releases ‘feel good’ chemicals called endorphins that help boost your mood and may help relieve depression. Get moving today by joining a class at the gym on post or putting the baby in the stroller and walking around the block. Double the benefits by inviting your neighbor to join you and make a new friend!
Exercise Your Mind
If we aren’t learning, we aren’t growing! Why not put the time while your Soldier is away to good use? Try taking a cooking or scrapbooking or even an automotive class. Read the latest bestseller and join a book club. Have you been thinking about going back to school? Put your husband’s GI Bill to work for you through transfer benefits. In addition to learning something new, it serves as a welcome distraction (you can only watch so many NCIS reruns on TV) and gets you out of the house.
Life doesn’t stop when deployment happens and you shouldn’t feel guilty about moving forward. When you have children, you can’t – and shouldn’t – put your family life on hold. Take time to make special memories with your kids. Of course, don’t forget to record those memories for your Soldier! Start new traditions. Special mom and me moments are something your kids will remember for a long time and will help them beat the deployment blues as well.
Get Out of the House
Don’t mope around in your pajamas. Get dressed and get out of the house. If you ever needed a friend, now is the time! Have coffee or a girls’ night out with a friend. Short on friends? Time to make some new ones! Do you have little ones? Join a MOPS group where there are others who understand what you are going through. You don’t have to do this alone.
See Your Doctor
If you have symptoms that are affecting your ability to eat, sleep or enjoy life, make an appointment right away. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You want to be your best when your Soldier comes home, so take care of yourself today.
In the book What Every Mom Needs, author Elisa Morgan compares mothering to the pre-flight instruction to affix your oxygen mask first, before assisting others. In essence, you have to recognize your own needs and take care of yourself, before you can care for others. Don’t let the deployment blues get the best of you. Invest time into taking care of yourself and meeting your needs. You will be a better mom and wife for it.
Athena Goldinger Hall
Army Wife and mom to six Army Brats
Links for further information:
Web MD: Diet for Depression – http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/diet-recovery
Mayo Clinic: Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression-and-exercise/MH00043
Department of Veterans Affairs: GI Bill – http://gibill.va.gov/
Mothers of Preschoolers: Find a Group – www.MOPS.org/groups
Tricare Mental Health – http://tricare.mil/mentalhealth/
Extreme Adventures in Motherhood (and trying to keep a house with 3 boys from smelling like a locker room!)