You’ve finally made it home. You’ve served your country proudly, and now you want to focus on returning to civilian life, picking up the pieces, and maintaining your overall well-being.
Honestly, it sounds easier than it is, especially if you’re dealing with physical or mental injuries, PTSD, or other challenges that come with serving in the military.
And since the structure from your former life and your camaraderie with fellow servicemembers are gone, you may feel a bit lost.
That’s why focusing on your wellness and health is important. It’ll help you readjust, rebalance, and start living a fulfilling life. If you’re unsure where to start putting your life back again, this guide will pave the way for a healthier, happier you. So, keep reading.
1. Get Some Tests Done
After time in the service, there are specific tests that you should get done to check that you’re healthy and there’s nothing amiss. Even if you feel great, it’s always best to be proactive and get yourself checked out.
Some basic tests recommended are blood pressure checks, lipid levels, body mass index (BMI), and blood tests for diabetes, cholesterol, or other health issues.
Besides these, mesothelioma in the navy is a rising health concern. It’s a rare and perilously aggressive form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Since cruisers, battleships, minesweepers, and submarines all had asbestos in their insulation and boilers, veterans are at an increased risk. So, make sure to get checked.
2. Address Wounds and Injuries
As a veteran, it’s essential to address any physical wounds and injuries as soon as they occur.
Don’t ignore any aches, pains, and discomforts. Even if the injury wasn’t sustained in battle, taking steps toward recovery and rehabilitation is still critical. Get in touch with a qualified medical professional who can provide specialized care.
Don’t try to “tough it out.” Your body has been through a lot and needs some TLC.
You can also work with a physiotherapist or a chiropractor if the injury isn’t severe. Reaching out to these professionals can help you regain mobility and flexibility and rid yourself of any chronic pain.
3. Stay Up-to-Date on Vaccines
Bacteria, viruses, parasites, and ticks don’t differentiate between servicemembers and civilians. Thus, to stay protected, you must keep your vaccinations up-to-date. It is recommended that you get the yearly flu shot, as well as other vaccines like:
- Hepatitis A and B
Since living in close quarters increases the risk of developing meningitis, it’s also wise to vaccinate against it. Additionally, if you travel abroad, get the recommended vaccines for cholera, yellow fever, and malaria.
Your doctor can help you understand which shots are right for you and your lifestyle.
4. Start a Fitness Routine
There are high chances you’ll give in to the coziness of civilian life and forget the rigors of drill and physical training. Don’t allow this to happen, as staying active and fit is essential to your wellness.
Whether dealing with physical injuries or not, start slowly by doing simple exercises such as walking, running, and cycling. If the weather doesn’t allow it, go to a gym or do some yoga at home.
Exercising is not only good for maintaining physical health but also helps with mental health, reduces stress, and provides a sense of accomplishment.
Begin with small steps and slowly increase your intensity. If you’re low on motivation, invite a friend or get help from a personal trainer.
5. Tackle Your Mental Health Issues
It wasn’t easy in the service, and it won’t be any easier now. You’re bound to experience some emotional challenges due to traumatic experiences or prolonged isolation. If left unaddressed, you can harm your physical health and your relationships.
Research has revealed that only half of the military personnel receive the psychological help they require. This absence of care leads to concerning levels of domestic violence, addiction, and suicide. The US loses 22 veterans a day to suicide.
Reach out to a therapist, a support group, or even a friend who understands your experiences. Don’t be ashamed of seeking help, and don’t suffer in silence.
6. Be Mindful of Your Diet
A healthy diet is the backbone of good health. Eating right can help you reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
As a veteran, keeping tabs on your diet and ensuring you get enough of the essential nutrients is important. Get a good balance of lean proteins, fresh vegetables, and fruits.
Also, be mindful of your caloric intake and limit processed foods and sugary drinks. These changes can lead to obesity, heart attacks, and other health problems.
Some highly beneficial foods for veterans include salmon, spinach, walnuts, and blueberries. You can also look into supplements like fish oil and probiotics that positively affect brain and nerve functioning.
7. Connect with the Community
For a long time, you’ve been trained to put yourself last. It’s time to put this habit aside and focus on your needs. Start by connecting with your community and getting involved in activities that interest you.
Whether volunteering, joining a veterans group, or taking up a new hobby, getting out in the world can help you feel connected and valued. This connection will give you a sense of purpose and help you find fulfillment. Studies also suggest that having a sense of belonging and purpose leads to better physical health.
You must also take some time and relax, as it can help reduce stress and anxiety. So, hike, explore nature, go camping, or do something that relaxes you and brings you joy.
Stay social but don’t burn yourself out.
Being a veteran does come with its own set of health challenges. From wounds to mental health problems, the road ahead isn’t always easy. But with the proper guidance and care, you can lead an active and healthy lifestyle. Remember, you aren’t alone anymore. You have your family, friends, and community to support you.
Take care of yourself and make sure you get the help you need. Stay committed to your health, and you’re sure to bring about positive changes in your life.