Tips for Military Families

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EAP understands the unique challenges and rewards of being a military family. Each member makes sacrifices every day in order to support their loved one in the military. Too often, we don’t acknowledge the importance of these roles.

1) Become familiar with resources available to you before you need them. Keep a list of resources including phone numbers in a location where they are available at all times. Be willing to seek out help when you first need it. Don’t wait until things are at a crisis stage. Talk to your command chaplain regarding churches in your area.

2) Develop a strong support system. Everyone needs a minimum of five friends and military families need more. Keep in touch with friends who are no longer in your daily life. A quick note or even a short phone call can make a big difference in the level of connection you feel to others. This lowers the feelings of isolation.

3) Join a group or two. Group support helps you to feel a “part of” and allows you to meet new people that you would not have connected with on your own. Visit different groups to find the one you really feel meets your needs. It may be a military based support group, a specific interest group or a church group.

4) Journal daily. Writing things down helps us tell our stories and keeps things in perspective. You can share your journal or keep it totally to yourself. The main thing is to do it on a regular basis. Just the act of writing things down helps us let go of the feelings and feel better about ourselves.

5) Find a time every day to feel connected to your spouse/family member/significant other. Maybe it is when you get up in the morning, eat lunch or when you go to bed. Practice this technique when you are together and it will be easier when you are separated.

6) Talk over situations that may come up when you are separated. Then if faced with a major decision you have history of how the two of you think and feel about that issue or problem. You won’t feel quite as alone in the decision making process.

7) Take care of your physical self. Exercise on a regular basis at least five times a week. Identify some form of sport or workout that you will enjoy. Not only do you get the physical benefits but it will decrease your stress level and help you feel better about yourself. Eat in a healthy manner. Get enough sleep.

8) Take care of yourself emotionally. There are no wrong emotions or feelings. Laugh often and cry when you need to as both laughter and tears are healing. If you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions seek help and additional support.

9) Find quiet time to meditate daily. Even five minutes will help with stress management. Start out with two or three minutes and build up to fifteen. Put a timer in your car and if you get to work or an appointment early, sit in the car, close your eyes and be quiet.

10) Develop a support system at work. Find a balance of letting your co-workers know what is going on in your life and being a productive employee.

11) Find a mentor. Develop a relationship with a long term military family member whom you admire. Ask them to be a mentor or support for you. They will have had to face many of the same challenges and can give you hope.

12) Be proud of your role. Remind yourself that you are serving your country in a very special way. Take some time to reflect on your contribution to our safety.