Reducing Deployment Stress

Six Simple and Effective Strategies for Military Spouses

frazzled mom
Getty Images/Chris Fertnig

It's no secret that deployments and all that they entail, raise a military spouse's stress level. Now for the good news: There are several simple things you can do to reduce that stress. Of course, the following tips and suggestions won't magically eliminate all of your stress and the challenges you'll undoubtedly face. However, they're intended to make your journey through the deployment a tad easier--and, hopefully, more pleasant (or at least less unpleasant)

One Day at a Time

Instead of concentrating on how long your spouse will be gone, try to focus your attention on taking things one day at a time, and when necessary, one moment at a time. By doing so, you may actually discover that the days pass rather quickly because you're focused on the here and now rather than on some distant date on the calendar.

Reduce Your Workload

Suggesting you reduce your workload while your spouse is deployed may sound ludicrous, if not downright silly. After all, if you're like most spouses, your workload has actually increased because of the deployment.

However, there are numerous ways for you to cut back. For example, if you detest yard work and have the funds to do so, hire a teenager in the summer to mow your lawn. That same teenager may want to earn a few extra bucks during the winter, and will gladly shovel your snow.

Shopping in bulk is another way to lighten your workload. Stock up when you go to the commissary or grocery store and you'll be able to make your shopping trips fewer and further between, which means less running around on your part.

Ask for Help

In general, military spouses have a tendency to avoid asking for help if it's at all possible, which often leads them to suffer in silence. Please, don't put yourself through this. There's no shame in asking for help when you need it.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, which often occurs when everyone in the household is sick or you're running at full-speed yet never able to catch up, make it a point to reach out to others. Chances are, you'll find plenty of individuals within the military and civilian community who are more than willing to lend a helping hand. Keep in mind that many people want to show their support for the troops and military families and are looking for ways to do just that. Being able to offer assistance to a military spouse whose husband/wife is deployed may actually be something that's very meaningful to them.

Furthermore, if pride is standing in your way of asking for help, offer to return the favor(s) once your spouse is home. You never know, one day in the future, you could end up being somebody's angel simply because you allowed them to be yours during your time of need.

Make Time for You

You're probably thinking, "Yeah, right. I can barely find time to use the bathroom!" That's perfectly natural when we're super busy and someone suggests that we add one more thing to our already-overflowing plate. However, making time for yorself isn't merely another dreaded task to place on your to-do list: it's an act of self-preservation.

Take a close look at your schedule. Can you find some time throughout the day or week that could be reserved just for you? Even setting aside a few minutes a few times throughout the day is better than none at all.

If you have young children there are several military-sponsored respite and child care programs specifically in place to give spouses of deployed servicemembers a break when they need one.

Be Choosy About Whom You Spend Time With

Your time is valuable regardless of whether or not your spouse is deployed. But because of all the added demands placed on you during a deployment, your time is much more precious than ever.

Do you really want to spend it with negative individuals—people who always have something to complain about or someone to gossip about; people who generally put you in a foul mood or leave you feeling drained and depleted at the end of every conversation?

There's nothing wrong with avoiding or limiting your interactions with negative people and situations. Instead, try to surround yourself with positive individuals—people who inspire you. Chances are, you'll notice a big difference in your mood and energy levels.

It's Okay to Say No

Are you the first person people call when they need help? Do you have a habit of always saying yes? If so, you're not alone.

Many military spouses go out of their way to lend a helping hand to their friends, family, co-workers, and organizations that they're affiliated with, often to the point of sacrificing their own health and well-being.

Give yourself permission every once in a while to say, "I'm sorry, I can't." Not being everyone's saving grace 24/7 may end up being your saving grace.

Crisis Resource

Everyone has a "breaking point" and if you feel you're reaching yours, please reach out for help by calling MilitaryOneSource at 1-800-342-9647. They're available 24/7 to help you through whatever difficulties you're facing.