Military spouses say bend, don’t break when life throws a curveball

Posted On: Wednesday, 03 March 2021

Let’s face it: We seemingly live in whirlwind times with general uncertainty surrounding the life we’ll come to know post-pandemic. 
An important event you’re looking forward to may be cancelled. Your child is doing virtual learning for school while you work a busy full-time job from home. You received notice that your workplace has to reduce hours and staff because of low profits. And perhaps worst of all: A loved one who contracted COVID-19 is now clinging to life.
Becoming resilient and overcoming obstacles can be quite a challenge in itself. Resiliency is such an important topic that it’s a key component of military training. In the U.S. Department of Defense Master Resilience Training Course, servicemembers learn skills that include energy management, emotion awareness and regulation, impulse control, de-catastrophizing, putting it in perspective, problem solving, and more.
Military spouses – those queens and kings of their domains – know resiliency all too well. Their skills were obtained not from a formal training course, but from years of experience in managing life at home while their servicemember was on deployment. Auxiliary magazine interviewed the military spouses at American Legion Auxiliary National Headquarters for their advice on how to keep your head above water when it feels like a flood is incoming:

  • Keep going. Don’t pout about the major obstacle in front of you. Dwelling on the negative is unhealthy and unproductive. You’ve got to move on.
  • Sometimes, you have to put your feelings in a box and come back to them later. But know that it’s completely normal to feel like your world is crumbling down. It’s also completely normal to call your doctor and talk about methods of calming anxieties.
  • Make your bed every morning. At the end of a tough day when you think you’ve accomplished nothing, at least you conquered something you do have complete control over. 
  • Look on the bright side. Always try to find a positive in every negative, no matter how hard that can be. Your world feels like it’s crashing down? Well, hey – the forecast shows a sunny and warm day! The baby is sick and you’re grumpy after operating on mere hours of sleep? It means extra snuggles and bonding time with your child.
  • Surround yourself with friends and family. Isolation is the enemy, so be sure to reach out and talk to others; don’t wait for them to reach out to you. You can hang on to the ends of your rope together! And remember that you are never alone. Even when you feel like you are, support is always there. Take advantage of that beefed-up technology and arrange a virtual meeting with those who may not be a quick drive away.
  • Having a plan can make you become more resilient. Even though things can change, make goals and work on self-skills. An added benefit: Finding a passion keeps you occupied and your mind off stress and anxiety triggers.
  • Memorize The Serenity Prayer. 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.
  • You don’t have to be everything to everybody. Take time for you – book a manicure, take a hot bath, or bundle up with a cozy blanket and binge-watch some reality TV. Unwinding equals instant gratification.
  • Volunteer and become involved in your community. Now is a great time to check in with your American Legion Auxiliary unit (if you haven’t already) to see what kinds of mission outreach events or activities are coming up. Help out as your schedule allows.
  • Adjust your expectations. There is no “perfect” these days. Sometimes, there’s just “Ehh … good enough” and that’s totally OK!
  • Take a break from the outside world. Unplug from the news for a while and lower your ops tempo. It’ll help your blood pressure. 
In these topsy-turvy times when each day is wildly different, just remember that others are in the same boat – many people are feeling similar stressors and for the same reasons. Condition yourself to take things one day at a time … and when all else fails, find something to be thankful for, even the smallest thing. Yoga pants!
This article was originally published in the February 2021 Auxiliary magazine. 

ALA Mission

In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.