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Simple, Effective Self-Care Strategies for Veterans

Photo by Unsplash Written by Cheryl Conklin

As a veteran, there are many resources available to help you navigate mental health challenges. From professional counseling to community programs, taking advantage of such resources can prove invaluable on your journey to healing. But there are also plenty of steps you can take yourself for improving and maintaining your health and wellbeing. Yogaaah lists several self-care tips below to consider.

Stay active

If you served in the military, you likely understand how important physical activity is to your overall health and well-being. If you have allowed your fitness to decline, look for ways that you can build it back up. Maybe it means going for a run each day, finding workouts you can do at home or at the park, or joining an online yoga class like Yogaaah, where you get the bonus social benefit. Whatever you choose to do, be consistent with it.

Consider getting a pet

For many veterans, readjusting to civilian life can be a challenge. One way to ease the transition is to get a pet. Pets can provide much-needed companionship and support, and they can also offer some important self-care benefits. For example, taking care of a pet can help veterans learn responsibility and build routines. Caring for a pet can also help veterans reduce stress and anxiety, and it can provide them with a sense of purpose. Additionally, interacting with animals has been shown to boost mood and improve overall mental health. Of course, before getting a pet, it’s important to do your research and choose an animal that is a good fit for your lifestyle and personality. It’s also important to research all of the supplies and toys you’ll need to keep your pet happy and healthy. There are a plethora of different sites that can keep you informed about all the different things you’ll need as a pet owner.

Maintain a social life

Don’t neglect your need for socialization. Living in isolation can be detrimental to your health and well-being as a social being. Make sure you are fostering the most important relationships in your life. The Department of Veterans Affairs suggests looking for a support group in your area to help you through trauma or other issues; chances are there is a great veterans group in or near your neighborhood or city.

Greater Good Magazine cites research that found volunteering is a fantastic way to stay engaged with others and boost your self-care. You can volunteer locally as well as financially support communities both near and far that you feel connected to via your service.

Find the right job

It can be a hard transition to civilian employment, and you may worry you don’t have the necessary skills. However, your military experience can be hugely beneficial when it comes to finding a job or even starting your own business. Think about it: you have a solid grasp on discipline and routine, you’re no stranger to teamwork, you understand how to assess risks and you are conditioned to see things through to the end. With these skills in your toolbelt, you have the potential to be a great employee or entrepreneur.

Eat nutritious meals

Your diet also plays a major role in your all-around health and well-being. Try to stay away from processed foods and refined sugars. A poor diet is one of many unhealthy habits that can increase stress and contribute to poor mental health. Opt instead for clean foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and so on. And be sure to drink plenty of water each day. While there is more to what constitutes a healthy diet, taking these simple steps will make a big difference in how you feel and function from day to day.

Prioritize sleep

Sleep is how your body and mind process the events of the day and recharge for the next day. Without adequate rest, you will not be able to function at full capacity, and your health and well-being will suffer. If you have problems getting a good night's sleep, try cutting out caffeine after lunch and finding a relaxing activity to do before bed (e.g., reading, stretching, meditating, etc.). Also, make sure your bedroom is set up for sleep; it should be dark, cool, and quiet.

Do something that relieves stress

Sleeping at night is critical, but you should also be finding ways to rest and relax during the day. Look into the various forms of meditation that can help you to be present and maintain a healthy perspective. Explore different yoga styles that offer the benefits of meditation combined with physical activity.

Apply this mindset to your living environment too as a way to ensure your space provides the necessary relief you need after a long day. Keep clutter to a minimum, maintain an organizational system for everything, bring in some plants, add some ambient lighting and consider adjusting the temperature at night for better sleep.

Taking care of your own health and well-being is critical when navigating the challenges that often come with being a veteran. And there are many habits and strategies that you can implement yourself to lead a healthier and happier life, from getting a pet to looking for ways to incorporate exercise into your routine. Along with following the tips above, keep looking for other ways to take your health and well-being to the next level!

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