Time spent in the armed forces can be quite overwhelming, and transitioning to civilian life isn’t as easy as it may initially seem. Veterans may face a variety of struggles, including adjusting relationships outside the military, applying for jobs again, and managing their health and wellness.
During your time in the armed forces, you have to follow a rigid room that doesn’t give you much space to do things your own way. Once you’re out of that life, it’s difficult to break out of those habits and adjust to a more flexible life where you have more control over your decisions. As a result, this readjustment can have an impact on your health and well-being.
In fact, considerable research suggests veterans suffer from health issues more than the average person. Apart from the development of mental health issues, such as depression and PTSD, as a result of time in the army, these veterans are also more prone to obesity, which results in other health issues. Moreover, veterans even often live in areas where they may not have access to healthy food and physical activity.
Of course, physical activity and a healthy diet have a considerable impact on any person’s overall health and well-being. Exercising regularly and making better food choices can improve your mental and physical health, both.
It’s important to prioritize your physical and mental health to ensure you’re able to move on from military life easily. Here’s what you can do to achieve that.
Staying Fit by Exercising
Military life requires an exceptional focus on physical training. It’s easy to become accustomed to that lifestyle when every day starts with physical activity. In fact, going on several miles’ runs and marches is quite the norm and comes with the lifestyle and the occupation.
Moving on from the military means that you don’t have to physically train each morning. Hence, it becomes increasingly important to ensure you make fitness by exercising a goal. There are certain things you can do to achieve that. These include:
- Create a routine that you’re likely to follow every day. Following a routine would be similar to what you were used to in the military.
- Connect with other veterans like yourself to create an exercise group. There are many options you can explore, like a cross-fit group or a boot camp every morning.
- Connecting with other veterans also involves keeping each other motivated and ensuring you help each other meet your goals. By keeping each other accountable, it’ll be easier to stay on track.
Staying Mentally Healthy by Exercising
As mentioned earlier, veterans are quite prone to mental health issues. Hence, it’s important to find activities and exercises that you’ll enjoy. You might need to experiment and explore to determine what routine works for you. Still, it’ll be worth it when you find that physical activity you love doing. This physical activity can leave a significant impact on your mental health, including:
- Alleviating tension that’s physical, as well as mental. Unreleased pressure can result in many health issues, such as gastrointestinal issues, migraines, and insomnia.
- Helping your nervous system heal from symptoms and trauma linked to PTSD.
- Helping you retain a sharp and healthy memory and thinking abilities. Additionally, exercise can help your brain grow new brain cells, and hinder declines linked to aging.
- Triggering the release of endorphins and boosting mental energy, which can improve your outlook on life and your mood.
Lastly, it’s also common for veterans to struggle with sleep after their military time. Exercising can help you improve your issues with insomnia. You should aim to get at least 6 hours of sleep every night.
A guide for disabled veterans
Transitioning out of military life is difficult. It becomes more challenging when it leaves you with lasting disabilities and physical injuries. In this case, disabled veterans have issues staying physically healthy and finding exercises that they can easily incorporate into their daily routines.
Luckily, there are specific exercises specially designed for disabled veterans as well as modification programs. If you want to stay physically and mentally active, it’s vital to stay active as a disabled veteran. There are specific exercises and workout tips you can incorporate, including:
- If you want to manage your overall health and keep your weight under control, you should keep your core as strong as possible. These exercises include crunches and those that can keep your lower and upper back strong. If, for instance, you’re looking for a lower back exercise, you can try leg lifts or the swimmer.
- An excellent way to relax and condition your body is through stretching, which should ideally be done before and after exercises too.
- Upper body exercises that include those with dumbbells. You should try tricep extensions, chair dips, and military press.
- Get in touch with a group or trainer that focuses explicitly on modified fitness programs. If going somewhere isn’t possible, you can join one online, too.
Monitoring your nutrition
Nutrition plays a significant role in your overall well-being. Watching your nutrition helps with multiple areas, including keeping your weight under control and lowering the probability of developing conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Good nutrition also positively impacts your mental health since a well-balanced diet improves your body and mind.
Here are a few nutrition tips that can help you out:
- Watch your calories and portion sizes whenever you’re planning meals or eating out.
- You should prep and plan your meals each week. You can shop for groceries and prepare your meals in advance, reducing the likelihood of you having food impulsively due to convenience or hunger.
- Incorporate healthy fats, such as omega-3s in your diet, which is often found in food like cold water fish such as salmon. These healthy fats improve your mental health as well as your heart health.
- Apart from omega-3 fatty acids, many other foods can boost your mental health, including yogurt, green vegetables, and lean proteins.
- When you’re selecting food for yourself, you should remember that you’re probably burning fewer calories than you were during your time in the military since you were likely more physically active then. You should adjust your calorie intake and meals accordingly.
- Schedule your meals at regular times every day. Military life involves a set meal schedule, and without that schedule, you’ll be tempted to snack at odd times, skip meals, and have more food than you’re supposed to. Hence, you should try to follow a schedule as much as possible.
- Keep antioxidants in mind when you’re looking for beauty and skincare products, as well as your food. You should ideally keep an eye out for vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E. These vitamins are found in sunflower oil, rose hips, leafy greens, orange-colored vegetables and fruits such as carrots, oranges, and sweet potatoes.
- If you stay a lot indoors, you should incorporate a vitamin D supplement to your daily routine for immune support, emotional health, and bone health.
- You should complement vitamin D with mineral and vitamin supplements to bridge any gaps. As we grow older, our body’s ability to absorb nutrients falls, and it’s vital to consider this.
Incorporate meditation into your routine
Meditating results in a variety of health benefits, which is typically used to reduce stress and relax. Apart from this, though, meditation also helps in other areas by helping treat PTSD and manage its symptoms. Overall, it can improve your quality of life and mental health.
Usually, many people use meditation to treat a variety of conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- Chronic pain
- Sleep issues
- High blood pressure
- Tension headaches
- Irritable bowel syndrome
If meditation isn’t something you’re interested in, you should allocate free time in your daily schedule. The idea is to keep some time to when you’re not thinking about your obligations or work. You should also try working on a passion project involving music, painting, or mechanical work.
You don’t necessarily need to put hours aside for this. Even 10 minutes to half an hour every day would work. You can take a nap, complete a crossword puzzle, or listen to relaxing music. In the fast-paced lives we live in today, it’s important to keep time to stay calm and relax.
It’s vital to have a holistic perspective on your health and well-being. Hence, it’s essential to use whatever services and resources you have available to ensure you’re in the best shape possible.
If it does get challenging for you, you should consider reaching out to a therapist who can guide you. There are many local veteran support groups; otherwise, you can even consider an online one that can help you share your experience and have a safe space where other veterans do the same.
Lastly, it’s essential to manage your stress levels. You can do that in multiple ways, including building and maintaining healthy relationships and focusing on yourself. Your health should be a priority, and only then can you live a healthy life.