What do you think of when you hear about wellness in military families?
Many of us would probably think about the absence of illness, which is not entirely wrong, but it’s incomplete. Wellness is a state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being. The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as a “conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.”
The way we feel and think directly affects our actions and emotions. Our mental and physical wellness impacts every aspect of our lives including our jobs, businesses, marriages, family life, sociability and overall health. This is why it’s important to achieve wellness in military families.
wellness IN MILITARY FAMILIES is CRITICAL
Maintaining optimal wellness is the key to living a high-quality life. Optimal wellness helps reduce stress and anxiety, as well as decreases the risk of mental and physical illness. Being well helps us stay focused and positive, prepare us for unexpected events, and allows us to discover happiness or fulfillment. And while being well is important for all individuals, it’s especially critical for military members and their families.
Wellness for Servicemembers
Servicemembers often face challenges civilians generally don’t. The physical strain placed on their bodies, accompanied by periods of separation from family, can dramatically increase the risk of mental health issues. Focusing on optimal wellness practices can better position servicemembers to manage these challenges. It also prepares them for combat readiness or other critical military duties.
Wellness for Military Families
Wellness is also crucial for military families. These families encounter unique situations, including separation due to deployment, constant relocation, or being separated from their larger family support system. These situations can be especially hard on military children. Unfortunately we often forget about the importance of military spouses and their children and their needs go unmet.
ACHIEVING WELLNESS TAKES TIME AND EFFORT
Working to achieve optimal wellness will greatly benefit and change our lives, yet it can’t be done in one swoop. It takes time and little changes daily to make a big difference. You can implement wellness practices individually or as a family. Just remember it all starts with taking action!
Four Family Wellness Tips to Get Started
Exercise daily. Swap TV time with an evening hike or walk in the park, or kick a soccer ball around with the kids before dinner. Find fun ways daily to stay active and keep moving.
Choose healthier foods. Pre-packaged foods and drive-throughs are convenient options, but should only be consumed occasionally. Stock up on veggies, fruits and whole grain instead. It’s also cheaper for families. Changing your eating habits can have an amazing impact on your health and wellness.
Eat dinner together. Eating dinner as a family has proven to have many benefits, especially for children. It doesn’t need to be a fancy meal, the important part if spending time together and sharing stories about each other’s day (no cell phones allowed).
Meditate for peace of mind. Even a few minutes of quiet reflection a day can have great advantages, including clearing your head, reducing stress and controlling anxiety. Only have a minute, try this app, which is great for beginners.
There are plenty of resources available for service members, veterans and their families, including Military One Source, Operation Live Well, Military Kids Connect, as well as local, on-post resources. Additionally, TRICARE and the Department of Veteran Affairs offer resources to servicemembers and veterans (respectively) who qualify.
Small efforts to achieve optimal wellness in military families can make a big impact on their lives. Don’t wait to get started.