Happy to have this guest post by Heather! Want to write a guest post for Soldier’s Wife, Crazy Life? Please email me at Julie@soldierswifecrazylife.com and let me know! I take pieces on anything milspouse related, from deployment tips to duty station reviews.
Taking care of yourself can look different for each person. Maybe you show self-care by getting your nails done, taking a girl’s trip, or simply taking a warm bubble bath with no interruptions (if that’s possible). Each of us finds something to help relieve our frustrations or stress the best that we can and the best that we know how. Regardless of what you choose to do, taking care of yourself and your mental health should be a top priority.
Here are some tips to help get yourself into a habit of taking care of your mental health!
- Love Yourself and Be Compassionate
First and foremost, remember to love yourself and give yourself compassion. Many of us are hard on ourselves, dwell on our past choices, or simply beat ourselves up. Don’t punish yourself, instead learn from your experiences and make them a lesson. Give yourself gratitude for things you do throughout the day. Maybe you painted a room or took a shower for the first time in three days. Celebrate that! The one voice you are going to hear every single day is yourself. Be compassionate to yourself. Give yourself that positive talking and learn to love yourself. We teach our children to speak kindly to others, so we should do the same to ourselves.
- Recognize Triggers
Throughout our life experiences, we develop triggers that are associated with mostly negative events in our lives. For example, during my first deployment, I had a special ringtone for when my husband would call. Anytime I heard that specific ringtone I immediately forgot all things I was doing and would immediately find my phone to take his call as they were few and far in between.
Even after his return when I hear that ringtone it immediately triggers me into panic mode to find my phone. To help with this, I have changed the ringtone on my phone. This is a simple example of a trigger, but it is important to recognize what triggers you so that you can work on not being triggered especially if it is associated with negative memories.
- Create a Routine
From an early age, we are introduced to routines or a schedule of events based on the time of when things will happen. Think back to elementary school when we knew what time we had naps (I miss this), lunch, bathroom breaks, etc. Very similar to how children need a schedule to help them with their day, so do we as adults! To help get yourself into the flow of the day, make a routine for yourself that includes the fun things you enjoy.
Maybe you have a full-time work schedule and you are also the housekeeper and caretaker but you want to go to the gym. Write out your schedule and see where you can plug in a time for the gym. Maybe you are feeling depressed and having a hard time getting up to complete a task. That’s okay! Try writing out things you would like to get done or need to get done like laundry, grocery shopping, reading a book, or taking a walk. We have smartphones that can help us with our calendars and routines to help get us moving. Utilize this! Remember, small steps and celebrate the things you did!
- Find New Ways to Help Your Mental Health
Find things that bring you joy and add it to your day! Maybe you really enjoy physical activities like biking, running, kayaking, or kickboxing. Do it! Maybe you are wanting to start a new hobby like gardening. Do it!
From 2020 into 2021, I was looking for things that made me happy to benefit my mental health. I found out our duty station happened to have an on post gardening club. How amazing is that?! I did all the reading and researching I could and decided to rent my own garden plot. I spent many hours in the garden digging new beds, weeding (mostly), and planting new vegetables.
Even if this was trial and error, my mental health improved so much! Listening to the birds sing, the outdoor fresh air, and the excitement of a tiny seed I planted coming to the surface. The sense of growing something, even if it didn’t survive, felt so great! New hobbies are a great way to help with our mental health and provide an outlet for our creativity or freeness of the mind.
Overall, you know yourself better than anyone else. Be true to yourself, love yourself, do things that make you happy! For many of us who wear many hats in our household, it is hard to remember to take care of ourselves too. You are important, loved, and you got this! Remember to celebrate things you do every day and give yourself some positive talks.