Mental health issues such as depression are common in veterans. The reason for these issues is simple. Military personnel lives a very challenging life, including physical and mental stress, especially for those who actively engage in combat.
According to a 2020 study, approximately 83% of all U.S. veterans and active duty service personnel have experienced depression and PTSD. Apart from mental health, their physical health is also affected.
Most Service members spend a very different life than most people during service; they must pass fitness tests and eat a healthy diet to ensure they are fit to serve. Unfortunately, this is hard to keep up post-retirement as they try to adjust to their new civilian life. A Veteran’s approach to self-care can be based on individual preferences. However, since some methods work for most people, we will jot down how veterans can care for themselves and live happy
and healthy lives after retiring.
1. Regular exercise
Though military veterans cannot be as active as during their years in service, they can still make healthy changes, including daily physical activity. Exercise has immense mental and physical health benefits for everyone. But for veterans, it is a necessity!
Exercise also helps delay or mitigate terminal illnesses such as mesothelioma by boosting your immune system. Navy Veterans carry a significant risk of mesothelioma due to
asbestos exposure (the primary cause of mesothelioma). If you google “mesothelioma navy
veterans,” you’ll find numerous resources to seek support and treatment, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.). However, assistance can only help when paired with
adequate exercise and a healthy diet; therefore, being cautious is always better. Besides repelling illnesses and injuries, exercise improves mood increases natural energy, enhances self-esteem, and makes you goal-oriented.
Some exercises you can include in your lifestyle include:
̶ Playing a sport
̶ Martial arts
- Focus on your diet
Keeping your mind and body healthy is quite possible with a regular exercise regime. But a healthy diet is equally, if not more important. A healthy diet affects your life in more ways than you may think. Apart from filling your belly with healthy nutrients, it also combats stress and improves your mood. For instance, eating an unhealthy diet such as junk food, fast food, sugary snacks, etc., increases cortisol— a stress hormone. The more you rely on unhealthy food, the more you put your health at risk. As a result, you feel more stressed, lazy, and irritated.
Therefore, you must ensure junk or fast food is not a significant part of your diet. A healthy diet includes:
Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and veggies are profused with vitamins and minerals that are extremely good for your health. They also help you fight diseases such as high blood pressure and heart, eye, and digestive issues.
A healthy breakfast: Starting your day on an empty stomach is the worst way to treat your body. Therefore, start your day with a healthy breakfast that includes proteins, dairy, fibers, etc.
Not staying Hungry for too long: when there is a long pause between two meals,
your body becomes dehydrated; your blood pressure, sugar level, and energy also
drop. And you feel dizziness and nausea. Always keep some healthy snacks, such
as dried nuts with you so you can eat some when eating a proper meal is impossible.
- Limit alcohol
Alcohol is good as long as it is consumed in moderation. However, according to the CDC, anything beyond two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women is not suitable for your body and mind. In addition, excessive alcohol consumption causes weight gain. Some people drink alcohol to reduce stress, but excessive drinking can actually worsen stress and anxiety. In addition, it increases your risk of developing depression and substance-related illnesses. Therefore, always keep a check on the amount of alcohol you drink. And make sure you don’t use alcohol to cope with mental health issues
such as depression, lack of sleep, nightmares, etc. The right person to get help for such issues is a veteran counselor. They are the people who help you transition into your new life and face new challenges.
- Get enough sleep
Veterans are exposed to troubling situations during their military service. Therefore, they often have a distressed sleep. Insomnia is the most prevalent sleep problem among military veterans. But if you want to return to a healthy lifestyle, sleep is essential. Neglecting your sleep will make you anxious and disinterested in the things you love. Lack of sleep also reduces your concentration. It becomes challenging to stay alert and pay attention to what is in front of you as your mind is foggy due to sleep deprivation. You also become helpless in performing tasks requiring logical reasoning and complex thinking.
Some tips for having proper sleep include:
Having a sleep-wake schedule: you must go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
Comfortable place to sleep: Make sure the room you sleep in is comfortable; it is away from any distractions; there is darkness, and there is no noise.
Avoid blue light: Blue light throws off your sleep-wake cycle. Therefore, limit your exposure to blue light thirty minutes to an hour before bed.
Service members are an asset to any country as they endure hardships to serve and protect the nation’s interests and its people. Once they leave their service, their life changes completely. However, this does not give them a break from living a healthy lifestyle. Exercise, medication, eating a healthy diet, and spending time with loved ones are easy ways to ensure self-care.