Stressful situations are part of our lives. And stress is as baked into our emotional histories as some of our happiest experiences. Generally speaking, stress comes and goes. But sometimes, certain stresses feel like they may never go.
If your spouse is in the military, caring about them may seem like one of these stressors.
You may be concerned about their health and safety when you don’t see them. You might miss each other’s company and being together. Add this to leaving your home and loved ones behind, and it can be a recipe for real trouble.
You may feel heartbroken, sad, bitter, frustrated, and even angry. You could find yourself:
- Starting fights with your spouse
- Overcompensating to cover your difficult feelings
- Avoiding hard conversations
- Emotionally withdrawing from your spouse
These responses are completely valid and all-too-normal for couples where one or both spouses are in the military. As a North Carolina therapist, I’ve seen how it can impact your overall well-being when that stress doesn’t seem to go away.
This is where military spouse therapy comes in.
In this post, I’ll share a few ways to overcome the stresses you face and how a specialized military relationship counselor can help.
Understanding the Benefits of Therapy as the Spouse of a Military Service Member
Most of us know this already — at least deep down. But it’s important to acknowledge the state of your mental health. And then to address the stress or grief that you might be fighting.
Taking proper care of your emotional health is essential in keeping you strong for yourself, your spouse, and your other loved ones.
Speaking with a relationship counselor who specializes in the struggles of military couples can be a great first step.
Counseling can help you improve your relationships. And it can help you heal, reconnect, and thrive.
What Military Spouses Can Do to Overcome Stress
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
– American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr 1932
Much of the worries that plague our everyday lives come from external factors — things that are out of our control. This is especially true for military spouses, who have little to no say in their partner’s schedule, whereabouts, or even safety.
How can you manage stress when so much is out of your control?
In my work as a therapist in North Carolina, I teach that self-care and stress management starts from taking those steps that you do have control over. What does that mean in practical terms?
Take a Break
Turn off the news. Leave your phone unattended (it’s okay to start with just a few minutes at a time). Allow yourself the time and space to step away from “getting stuff done” and do things you enjoy.
Breathe Deeply and Intentionally
Sitting still or lying down, place your hand on your stomach. Then take a deep breath. Now feel your stomach rise with each breath in and fall with each breath out.
Write About Your Feelings
Write down your emotions. Because it can help to bring clarity to your thinking processes. And it may allow for the development of a more healthy coping strategy to the problems that might be dominating your thinking.
Take a Brisk Walk
A combination of physical stimulation and fresh air! It might be just what your body and mind needs to relieve your stress.
Practice Self-Care Every Day
Make sure you take time every day to ensure your own well-being. Practice healthy habits such as:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Getting enough sleep
- Exercising regularly
Starting the journey back to achieving wellness requires health in both your mind and body. Without one, it’s more difficult to achieve the other. Take care of your body first. And it will be that much easier to take care of your mind.
Utilize Military OneSource Resources
Military OneSource offers free tools and resources to help service members and their families manage stress. And they offer audio tracks, breathing techniques, and other personalized tools that can help you to relax.
The Department of Defense is also working to make therapy feel less daunting or stigmatized within military circles by discussing the experiences and emotions that military couples go through. Doing this helps to do away with the “other-ism” that plagues the minds of many people with mental health issues. And that may pave way for better access to mental health care within our military.
If you decide that military counseling may be right for you, Deep Connections Counseling will get you connected with a military specialized therapist. Feel free to text or call us at (757) 704-5558 or submit a question to us through our website.
About the Author
Gosha Stanchak is a therapist in North Carolina. She is a Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist – Individual (CCTSI) who has been certified in Trauma – Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and in Military Trauma.
Gosha has worked with children, adolescents, and adults of all ages and backgrounds, including those who struggle with addictions and have difficulties coping with relationships, trauma, PTSD, stress, depression, anger, anxiety, and other mental health and life concerns. She strongly identifies with a humanistic approach, and most sessions will focus on deepening self-awareness, finding your strengths, developing healthy self-concept, changing the changeable, and accepting the unchangeable. Other theoretical approaches she employs include Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
If you are in North Carolina and are seeking therapy, reach out to Gosha for help.