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A New Beginning: 25 Strategies for Emotional Wellbeing for Veterans

A New Beginning: 25 Strategies for Emotional Wellbeing for Veterans

Are you a veteran who has left the service within the past year or so? That is great. Veterans of all kinds provide a great service to the United States and other countries and your service is very much appreciated. That said, what many veterans don’t realize is the importance of maintaining emotional wellbeing as a newly released veteran. So here are 25 emotional wellbeing strategies for veterans to help you for the rest of your life.

  1. Meditation. You’ve probably heard about meditation, what it is and what it can do for people, however, you may not realize how beneficial it can be for your emotional wellbeing.  Meditation is best done for 10-30 minutes in the morning or right before bed, although you can do it at any time. You can do it by yourself by turning on some classical music, closing your eyes and relaxing in a chair. However, for most people, it is easier to use a guided meditation from youtube or an app. There are lots of meditation apps, however, insight timer and calm are two of the better ones.
  2. Get a dog. Yes really. There is a reason why so many veterans have dogs. Dogs are great therapy animals and can be trained to help you recognize when you are struggling as well as how to help you with all kinds of both physical ailments and emotional challenges. If you can’t get a dog yourself, see if you can either find a friend or family member who has a dog you can spend time with, or see if you can volunteer to help people or organizations who have dogs.
  3. Exercise. Yes really. Exercising is not only great for your physical health but also for your emotional health. Exercise gives you a chance to clear your mind and to focus only on moving your body for a short period of time. Not only that but as an active service member you moved around a lot and did more exercise than you will ever do again in your life. If you stop exercising and moving your body now then it will be harder to start it up again.
  4. Find one or more support groups to join. There are lots of these out there for veterans. Some are affiliated with non-profit organizations that help veterans. Others are created by veterans for veterans. If you can’t find a local one in your area, then you can either create one, or consider starting or joining a Facebook group or other online support group.
  5. Get some therapy. This is often a necessity for many veterans. Don’t be afraid to admit it when you need help. Therapy can be very beneficial for emotional wellbeing for lots of people and there is no shame in taking advantage of it.
  6. Choose the right career. If you haven’t already completed job or career training or even if you have, consider choosing a career that has a low amount of stress. For example, being a family doctor, an engineer, an IT pro, a salesperson or dentist, instead of an ER doctor, police officer or paramedic since these jobs can be very stressful. These are just a few examples you can research jobs that have low stress and those that have high stress.
  7. Use essential oils. These are amazing for emotional wellbeing. There are lots of singles and blends you can use to help support a variety of emotions. For example lavender is well known to help with peace, calming, and better sleep.
  8. Get family support. This is really important. You need your family to support you as you transition from active service into the life of a veteran. If you have family members who aren’t supporting you, then you need to either figure out how to get them to change, or start spending less time with them.
  9. Keep Learning. Veterans (and others) who keep learning and who exercise their brains have fewer emotional challenges and have fewer memory problems. You need to exercise your mind just like you do your body.
  10. Find time to laugh. This is really important. You will probably cry enough when you think about some of the hard experiences you went through while serving, so you need to laugh too. Find funny TV shows or movies you can watch or jokes you can laugh at. It also helps to find a friend to laugh with you.
  11. Don’t let physical problems go unanswered. This is a must. Physical problems and emotional problems are connected so you need to get annual physicals and make sure that any physical problems you have get checked out and addressed by your doctor or other health care professionals.
  12. Consider breathing exercises. There are apps and websites to help, or you can sit still and breathe in and out for a few minutes. You can also consider doing this in conjunction with meditation.
  13. Eat healthily. This is important for everyone but even more important for veterans. If you eat healthily, then you will have good physical health most of the time and this will have an impact on your emotional wellbeing too.
  14. Take the time to have fun. Fun is always a good idea for having great emotional health. You may need to take the time and schedule fun. Think of traditional fun activities like movies, plays, or amusement parks, but also playing with children, going on walks, and other activities that may or may not be what most people would consider fun.
  15. Get some self-care. This can include simple things like a shower, nice long relaxing bath, a quick nap, a pedicure, or manicure, or a night out with friends.
  16. Get enough sleep. This is probably the number one most important thing for emotional wellbeing on this list. Getting enough sleep is one of the biggest factors that impact both physical and emotional wellbeing for everyone, not just veterans. If you are struggling with sleep, then you need to find out if there is a medical reason and get it resolved or try different supplements, meditations, music, or other strategies to make sure you get enough sleep most of the time.
  17. Prayer- if you believe in God this is even more important and helpful. If you don’t, then you can still engage in prayer to Buddha, the universe, or whatever higher power you believe in. Continuing to practice faith in whatever form you believe in can be very beneficial.
  18. Consider weekend duty. This is a common thing for many service members who are leaving active duty. You can continue serving for one or two weekends per month in order to ease out of full-time military service. If you find you are missing your service, then this may be a helpful strategy.
  19. Give service to others. You have probably heard that one way to forget your worries and problems is to give service or to lose your life in the service of others and making this a part of your life after active duty is no exception. Furthermore, because you have spent the last few years or more of your life doing nothing but service, getting back in the habit of service albeit a different kind of service can be very helpful for good emotional health.
  20. Start a new hobby. Hobbies of all kinds are great for your mental health. They can be an additional way to exercise your brain and mind, or body as well as a way to meet new people or if nothing else just have fun.
  21. Capture the memories. If you are like most veterans you have some good memories along with the hard and it can help your emotional wellbeing for you to put together some kind of picture album or scrapbook with pictures and other memorabilia to help you remember the good times.
  22. Try acupuncture. This can be very helpful for all kinds of things including emotional wellbeing.
  23. Try chiropractic. This is great for not only back and knee pain, but also for helping improve your brain health.
  24. Get a massage on a regular basis. This can be a great form of self-care but it is also great for relaxing and improving your physical and emotional health.
  25. Stay connected with any friends you made while serving. This can be a great strategy for getting support, capturing memories, and making it easier for you to do a lot of the other emotional wellbeing strategies on this list.

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About the Author: AnnaLaura Brown is a health coach and essential oil educator who graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in 2015. She is passionate about helping people improve their physical and emotional wellbeing. While she isn’t a veteran herself, she has several family members who have served and admires and respects everything they do and have done for the United States and other countries. Learn more about her and connect with her at http://annalaurabrown.com