Being a milspouse is great, but there is no denying deployment can lead to loneliness, and the loneliness is felt by partners too. This feeling is completely natural, but there are healthy ways of coping with loneliness. Follow these tips to help navigate your emotions and find positive solutions during military deployment.
9 Tips for Coping with Loneliness in the Military
Make a Plan
Even if you’ve gone your whole life without being a Type A planner, it’s time to reconsider once you’re a part of a military family. Making a plan before deployment can help you and your partner establish stability once separation begins.
Sit your partner down and start a discussion about strategies that will help you both transition into the deployment lifestyle. Communication is one of the most important topics to address as this will help you both cope with loneliness during this time. Establish a realistic goal for staying connected. Whether it be emailing each other once a day or Skyping once a week, find a solution that works for you.
Nurture a Support Network Before Deployment
Finding your way through loneliness in the military is a challenge many struggle with, but having a support network can make it so much easier. Rather than trying to reach out to people once deployment has already begun, it’s beneficial to nurture relationships prior to departure.
Remember to get creative with these relationships as well! Don’t limit yourself to just making friends with your neighbors. Build up your support network through mom groups, Facebook groups, military community sponsored groups, and public community sponsored groups such as the library. Meetup is a great way to find events near you that may give you new opportunities to join a group or two.
Take One Day at a Time
Living life without your spouse for months at a time is overwhelming no matter which way you cut it. Rather than focusing on the long haul, do your best to take it one day at a time. Occupy yourself with daily tasks and goals that need to be met and tell yourself you are doing your best and that’s the most important thing you can do. This can take a huge weight off your shoulders and allow you to find more positivity in each day.
Have Something to Look Forward To
Having things to look forward to is a healthy life habit for every person, but especially for those trying to figure out how to deal with loneliness. These things don’t have to be big or expensive either. Figure out what makes you happy and incorporate that into your life regularly. Love to paint? Sign up for an art class once a month. Do you feel like the kids are getting restless in the house? Plan a weekend trip to your favorite spot (or even a new one if you’re feeling adventurous). Marking your calendar with events can spark excitement and take your mind off of the negative emotions that come with deployment.
Be as Social as Possible
Even if your schedule is hectic and busy most days of the week, try your best to be as social as you can because getting caught up in the monotony of daily life can leave you feeling isolated. Make those lunch plans with your mom or sister. Invite a fellow military family over for a game night. Get involved in community events. Not only will this help you cope with loneliness during deployment, it will also strengthen your relationships and support network.
If you are stationed overseas, it’s obviously a lot more difficult to rely on family members that live thousands of miles away. Don’t let this get you down! Make time for Skype calls or Facetime and take advantage of the perks of the internet.
Also, look at being stationed overseas as your chance to make new friends. Step out of your comfort zone and find other military families in the area to be friends with. This will help give you a sense of family when you’re away from home, while also giving you something to look forward to.
Prioritize Your Health
One of the most crucial ways to cope with loneliness during deployment is by prioritizing your health. You need to take care of yourself with healthy eating habits, exercise, sleep, and lots of water. All of these basic life necessities play a huge role in your mental and physical health. Dealing with negative emotions is definitely hard, but a healthy lifestyle gives you a solid foundation to work through them.
Connect with Those in Your Same Situation
While spending time with friends and family is wonderful for your mental health during deployment, it’s also important to find a support network full of people in your same situation. Connecting with fellow military families is huge because they can relate to what you’re going through. You can share your thoughts and feelings, enjoy human connection, and possibly discover new insight on how to deal with loneliness when your partner is away.
Don’t be Afraid to be Vulnerable
Bottling up emotions and putting on a strong front for your kids, friends, and family can become an unhealthy habit during deployment. Although your efforts are coming from a good place, you need to address your emotions head on and that means you can’t be afraid to be vulnerable.
Whether you seek out professional help or choose to confide in a close friend or your partner, be honest and share your true self with those you trust. Being vulnerable is brave and can do wonders when it comes to dealing with loneliness in the military. It can show others how to support you in your time of need, as well as give you the courage to find positive solutions to your emotions.
Set Aside Time for Yourself
Last but not least, always make time for yourself during deployment. Take a day to pamper yourself and get a massage. Give yourself a couple hours to read that book that has been sitting on your nightstand for months. Whatever avenue you choose to take, make sure it’s separate from the kids and responsibilities. This gives you the chance to refresh, evaluate your feelings, and come back to your regular routine with a more positive mindset.
Figuring out how to deal with loneliness in the military during deployment is a process unique to each individual. While it’s a difficult road to navigate, there are plenty of tips and strategies to help you find your way. Choose the ones that work best for you and always remember to stay positive.