Deployment is stressful, of that, there is no doubt. According to Mental Health America, some adverse effects of deployment include lack of appetite, trouble concentrating, difficulty sleeping or feeling withdrawn.
Additionally, a study done in the UK on the consequences of deployment showed that military personnel were more likely to abuse alcohol and or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) upon return from deployment.
However, statistics are just numbers. In reality, it is possible for those who were recently deployed to stay healthy during their service. Check out these tips below.
1. Stay active
People in the military know there’s not a lot of downtime during active duty, but for those deployed to bases outside of war zones, a fairly regular schedule is common. Keeping active is a way to make time move a little more quickly.
Many soldiers hit the gym to help time pass, but this can get old day after day. Try engaging in an outdoor activity like playing a round of paintball with your fellow comrades in arms. There are many health benefits to paintballing, such as increasing your interpersonal skills or simply blowing off steam. If you don’t know yet how paintball guns work, don’t worry, they’re safe, accurate and capable of operating extremely fast. It’s the perfect way to take your mind off of pestilent thoughts while you’re engaging in physical activity.
2. Send and receive letters
Feeling disconnected from your life back home is an unfortunate reality almost every soldier faces during deployment. It can be difficult keeping up with family if they’re in a different time zone. Although a little old school, sending and receiving letters or care packages can make those long months more bearable, and give you a little piece of home to keep with you. It could be your personal project, something like a hobby. And hobbies are great at keeping us feeling creative and just make us better at many other things.
3. Watch what you eat and get plenty of sleep
Slate.com has a great article on the dangers of unhealthy eating in the military, but for brevity’s sake, just make sure that you’re getting the appropriate amounts of grains, protein and, above all else, fruits and vegetables. Clean eating will make a world of difference during your military career, providing you with the energy and health to be successful.
Also, sleep. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Due to the military’s strenuous schedule, the National Sleep Foundation reported that 85 percent of active duty members have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder. Different branches of the military are now funding research to improve soldiers’ sleep. Until then, you should know that there are a few things you can do in order to get better rest, even if you’re in pain. Practicing good eating habits and calming yourself before bed are ideal if you want to get a good night’s sleep.
It will be tempting to stay up an extra hour or two, simply to have time to yourself and a little freedom, but you and your job will seriously suffer if you don’t get enough shuteye.