Serving in the military requires serious sacrifices. If you’re a veteran of the US Armed Forces, however, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your mental and physical well-being. Taking better care of yourself is essential for preserving your quality of life as a veteran, and there’s no easier way to do so than committing to some simple self-care steps, including the ones below.
Support Your Health with Supplements
A simple step for taking care of your physical and mental well-being is to take a supplement or multivitamin each day. The benefits of multivitamins are numerous and include boosting your skin, improving energy levels, and balancing gut health. Good gut health is especially important since the imbalances of bacteria in the gut have been linked to weakened immune systems, poor emotional health, and serious chronic diseases, including various types of cancer and diabetes.
You can ensure that your gut stays healthy and that any gaps in nutrition are easily filled by taking a single supplement. This is key, even for those who exercise often and eat a healthy diet, because nutritional deficits, such as calcium, iron, and iodine, can be common even with healthy habits, and those gaps can cause problems for mental and physical health.
Sustain Your Connections with Others
Loneliness can impact veterans of all ages and have serious consequences for overall health, and it can be difficult for former active duty to adjust to less structure and a smaller social network. Recently separated veterans can make new friends by looking for new social connections in their new careers, going to a MeetUp or getting involved in recreational sports.
For older veterans, maintaining social connections can be made more difficult by an inability to drive, which can leave these vets spending the majority of time alone in their own homes. Thankfully, seniors can access transportation via services that are designed to assist older adults in getting out and getting around town. For example, churches, community centers, and medical centers typically offer shuttles but public transit is a good option as well.
Create Your Own Self-Care Routines
Supplements and social connections can be important for your well-being, but you also need to find more proactive ways to unwind and relieve stress. That can include routine self-care habits, such as practicing meditation, getting exercise, and improving sleep, but veterans can also look for alternative self-care and wellness programs to help reduce service- and separation-related stressors and triggers. Wilderness therapy programs are a good example of these alternate self-care practices and can be extremely helpful during the transition from military to civilian life.
Through these programs, like Warrior Expeditions and Huts for Vets, veterans can take advantage of the calming and healing effects of nature, which have been shown to reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress, and even improve PTSD-related symptoms.
Manage Your Mental and Emotional Health
It’s no secret that mental health is a serious issue for active duty and veterans. Self-care can help, but all too often limited access to care can make common mental health issues even worse. This problem is compounded when veterans suffering from combat- and service-related issues, including PTSD, anxiety, and depression, are unaware of VA mental health benefits that can provide the counseling, treatments, and support they need to find relief from symptoms.
These benefits include one year of care for recently separated veterans, emergency care for veterans with OTH discharges, and counseling from community-based veterans centers across the country. So, if you are dealing with any mental health issues or just need some additional support, be sure to research whether you are eligible for these potentially life-saving benefits.
Whether you’ve recently separated from the military or are a senior veteran, self-care is vital to the well-being of your body, mind, and spirit. So, make yourself a priority by taking self-care seriously and when self-care doesn’t seem like enough, be sure to reach out for the support from friends, loved ones, fellow vets, and professionals. Because you truly deserve to live a happy, healthy and full life after all of the sacrifices you’ve made in the past.
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