Taking care of one’s mental and physical health is crucial for military personnel and veterans. The nature and demands of their job, plus the conditions they work in, affect their health. The more obvious or expected diseases are usually dealt with, but the subtle ones may creep in if not identified early on. The Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus states, “prevention is better than cure.” So, if you serve or have served as a military officer, follow the ten tips given below.
- Making self-care a priority
The first step to living a healthier lifestyle is understanding the importance of self-care, especially for veterans and active service personnel. It has been shown that many ex-service personnel have a hard time looking after themselves due to exhaustion or pain. Not to mention the mental strain that military personnel endure during service. You should actively devote your time, attention, and effort to taking care of yourself.
- Seek help for any and all health concerns.
Military personnel have been shown to suffer diseases due to hazardous exposure to various substances, including burn pits, dust, asbestos, and smoke. This can lead to diseases like mesothelioma. Almost one-third of mesothelioma diagnoses in the United States occur in veterans, further underscoring the threat posed by the disease. If you or anyone you know might be suffering from this illness, visit mesotheliomaveterans.org to learn more about the illness and your options regarding treatment and compensation.
A major part of any occupation requires some level of mental health care, and military service is one that may require more attention than usual. There are many issues that military personnel face during and after their service, including PTSD as well as other emotional and psychological disorders which can lead them to misuse substances and alcohol.
- Adopt healthy eating habits
Losing weight can indicate mesothelioma, so it’s very important to maintain a healthy weight. High protein diets have been shown to be useful in preventing mesothelioma by conserving a healthy muscle mass. Fish and other seafood are very good sources of protein as they also contain vitamin D, which is deficient in a large chunk of the population these days. Limiting sugar consumption might also help prevent disease development, as elevated fasting glucose levels in men and women have been associated with a statistically significant risk of various illnesses. Avoiding alcohol is key to reducing the effects of anxiety and depression, which is a prevalent mental health concern found in both active and retired military personnel.
- Stay fit and active
Among military personnel, the phrase “physical fitness is the cornerstone of combat readiness” is embedded in their minds. Being physically active is necessary to maintain stamina, agility, and strength. Most importantly, according to WHO, it contributes to preventing and managing noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes as well as reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. It might be easier and more fun for ex-military members to stay active if they take up a sport instead of walking endlessly on their treadmill.
While active military personnel have no choice but to stick to the regime that keeps them fit, they mustn’t take up more excursion than their bodies can handle. Staying active does not necessarily require an extensive workout session; it needs consistency and knowing your potential. Sticking to a workout schedule can help active military personnel with much more than just their physical health, as it may also provide them with a pastime.
- Get sufficient sleep
Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation are common among military personnel and veterans. A study showed that 85.1% of military personnel suffered from sleep apnea, while some other studies also show the prevalence of insomnia amongst military personnel. Sleeping well is of utmost importance as it is a means of aiding recovery and maintaining mental health. The most useful ways to get a good night’s rest may include sleeping at the same time every day, meditating before bed, using black-out curtains at night, and limiting blue light exposure in the hours before bedtime.
- Spend more time socializing
Staying away from home for a prolonged period of time can build up a sense of dissociation and detachment from your loved ones. However, continuing down this past will just lead to more despair. Virtual interaction is your best option to push out of this cycle of being a hermit while serving as an active military member. Give yourself time to socialize with your loved ones back home through digital means.
As for veterans, it may seem tough to break out of the shell formed around you over your dutiful years of service. However, know that you are not alone, no matter how bleak you may find your situation to be. Find a support group for veterans in your area, visit old friends and family, or find the courage to make new connections again.
- Put your passion into action
The idea of finding a hobby is really good for rejuvenating, relaxing, and feeling like yourself again. While serving time as military personnel, a hobby can be your cornerstone that helps you wind down after a draining day. Reading books and using art to express your inner turmoil can be very beneficial. Even indulging in physical exercise can be a great pastime and a way to take care of yourself physically, as mentioned earlier.
Veterans often need to find something to keep them busy after a long service. Finding hobbies they can do with others can help increase their social life and keep their minds from drifting to harder times. Many people these days develop a green thumb later in life and turn towards gardening, which truly is a rejuvenating and social hobby.
- Connect with nature
An extended period of time surrounded by terror-inducing weaponry or on a naval ship far off the coast can take a heavy toll on one’s mental health. A change of scenery becomes crucial to help you regain a sense of peace and comfort. Feeling connected to nature can be as simple as taking a stroll in the park or meditating under a blue sky. Taking up adventurous exercises in the wild, like trekking, rafting, or rock climbing, can not only help your mental health but also aid with your physical health.
Since it would be neither practical nor possible for military personnel to stroll through the woods for fun, they can turn to a more static sort of nature-related therapy. An interesting study shows the correlation between sounds found in nature and their impact on the cognitive abilities of people exposed to them frequently. Simply put, taking in the sounds of chirping birds or singing crickets may help you connect to nature intimately, improving your mental capabilities.
Even though self-care sounds pretty straightforward, it can actually be quite challenging if you don’t know where to turn. With more at stake than just their own lives, military personnel should be granted facilities to keep them fit and healthy in all aspects. There is a high level of commitment and effort that needs to be put forth, something that military personnel would be much more familiar with than most people are.