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In the past few weeks during and after everything that has been going on with my son being sick and in the hospital, I have had so many people say things like, “You seem so calm,” “You are so strong!” or “I could never do that” and you know what I think? Are you kidding me?? If only you knew!
First of all, I am not calm. I am usually quite the opposite, although I am learning to keep it inside and not let my “uncalmness” tumble out of me into everything else. Second, it’s called “I don’t have any other choice.” I didn’t think I could do this, but I am, and I know that if you all out there who think you could not do this had to, you would too. And you would get through it just like I am. You know why? Because you wouldn’t have a choice either!
Every day before my husband left I heard in my head; I can’t do this, I can’t do this, I can’t do this. I am no different from anyone else. I can’t do it either, but I do. One step at a time and one day at time, until it’s finally all over. And as I was thinking about all this the other day I thought of all the things that help me cope and help me get through and I thought I would share them with you.
For those who wonder how I get through a deployment here are my 10 ways to cope during a deployment:
How to Cope During Deployment
1. I go to counseling.
I have mentioned counseling before, all the benefits it has, and how it is not something to be embarrassed about and I still stand by that. If you want to read my post about counseling please click here: Counseling. Being able to talk things over and talk about people (yes, I said people) and things that bother me is a huge help. I don’t have my husband to talk to during the week and it is so nice to be able to get things off my chest and have someone talk to me and help me cope with things past and present. My counselor always points me back to God, and sometimes I need that more than anything else. If you are interested in trying counseling, please know that it is covered by Tricare. It’s not just for people with problems, it’s for anyone who needs someone to talk to or even just help coping and getting by.
2. I have a military wife mentor who is a sounding board for me.
This poor woman hears from me at least once a day and sometimes as many as 5 times a day. She has gotten phone calls from at 3 in the morning when I didn’t know what to do, and bless her heart she is so patient with me! She is a Christian and a military wife of many years and so she knows the ropes of military life quite well. There are times when I just couldn’t handle something, or just needed someone to talk to or to talk something through and she has always been there to listen or to give advice. If you can, find a mentor, someone older than you who has been through several years of military life. They will be a good person to go to when you have questions or just need someone to talk to who understands.
3. I pray… and pray and pray and pray.
If I had a dime for every time I prayed, “Lord, give me strength” during this deployment, I would be rich! But seriously prayer is what gets me through, without my faith in God, knowing that He is listening and that He is here helping me, I would be lost. When you pray it doesn’t have to be this great, long prayer. Just tell Him how you feel. You will be amazed at the peace it brings to your heart when you place God first in your life.
4. I breathe.
Breathe? Yup, breathe. Seriously, I have anxiety problems. There are times when I know that I have pushed my limit. Sometimes I just have to stand there and practice the breathing I have learned that I know helps to calm me. It’s actually called candle breathing. You take a big deep breathe through your nose, hold it for a couple of seconds, then blow it out through your mouth like you are blowing out a candle. After you do that a few times it helps put things in perspective sometimes. I do it when I feel like I am about to panic, or when things are getting too overwhelming for me. I also do it a lot when I am going to bed because it helps me relax so I can go to sleep. Try it sometime, you might be surprised how quickly it can help calm you down!
5. I exercise
This is more of a recent one, but I have found that the times when I am upset or about to lose it, I get on my treadmill and put all my energy into it. I get an awesome work out and I get off the treadmill feeling much better than when I started. It’s a good use for all that negative energy and it makes you feel good! The times where I am stressed out the most have been some of my best work outs because I really put everything I had into it. You don’t have to do a crazy work-out to feel better, go for a walk or find a local yoga class. Both of those can be huge stress relievers as well.
6. I go out.
I get out of the house, I hang out with friends, I do something, but I get out of the house, and get a change of scenery, etc. Sometimes just being in the house for long periods of time can get to you. You need to get out, get fresh air, see some people, places, and things. This helps to keep things in perspective, keeps you busy, and keeps the time flying by.
7. I try not to cry
I’m not saying crying is bad, because sometimes you do need to let it all out. But for me, sometimes once I let it all go then it doesn’t stop and then I am sitting there all day crying and feeling sorry for myself (When my husband’s grandpa passed away, I had a moment where I started crying and could not stop. I was trying to wash dishes while my son was sleeping and finally I just had to stop and sit on the floor because I was crying so hard). I find if I just push it out of my mind, and put that energy into something else then I feel better anyways. Of course there are times when I do cry, and that’s ok but for the most part I just put that into something else and it all comes out ok. Also talking to someone when you want to cry or while crying helps. It may sound silly, but really that person is going to be understanding and want to help you through.
8. I talk to other military wives who understand what I’m going through.
I have two friends who I know I can message anytime and they will listen and put things into perspective for me. Just knowing that they have been through and felt the same things as me is a huge help to me. They know who they are because they get Facebook messages from me often. Ahem, Aprille and Briana… Find a friend who won’t judge you, and who truly understands the military life and talk to them whenever you are feeling low.
9. I find something to immerse myself in.
For me it has been organizing, cleaning, and decorating my house, and also exercising. I put myself into cleaning and organizing my home, first because it needs it very badly and I want to learn to keep a nice home, and second because I want my husband to come home to a beautiful, clean home. I am so excited for him to see some of the changes I’ve made! I have had several friends who have helped me do some (small) renovations, and it has been fun. Find something that you can do during the deployment. Set a goal and try to accomplish that goal during the deployment or before the deployment ends. It could be a weight loss goal or something else. Just picture how happy your husband will be when he sees you have reached your goal, whatever it may be!
10. I pray some more.
This one is so important that I had to mention it again. Seriously get on your knees right now and pray. I am speaking to myself here too. I don’t pray nearly as much as I should, and I know that really is the key to getting through each day.
What about YOU? What are some things you do to help yourself cope during deployment?