HEALTH

Are You a Veteran? Follow These Nine Tips for Good Health

Leaving the military and transitioning to civilian life can be a challenging time for veterans. After years of serving their country and having a purpose, veterans may struggle to adjust to the more unstructured lifestyle of civilian life. This major life change can take a toll on their health. However, the key for them to thrive after their military service is establishing and maintaining healthy routines.

While there are various health challenges for veterans, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine should be at the top. It’s mainly because the highly scheduled life of active military service meant meals and workouts were built into the day. Now that the rigid structure is gone, these habits might be easily forgotten. Poor eating habits and irregular movement can quickly result in deteriorating health.

The transition to civilian life also often coincides with major life milestones like family and career. These changes can increase stress levels, negatively affecting health if not managed properly. Finding a new purpose and a sense of belonging in the community after the military can be a common struggle. With these factors, it’s easy to see why prioritizing self-care is critical for veterans.

Here are some tips to help veterans take charge of their health and well-being during the transition to life after service:

1. Address Mental Health Needs

Mental health issues like depression, PTSD, and anxiety frequently impact veterans. Stigma prevents many from seeking help, but speaking to a professional can be life-changing. Additionally, some veterans may have been exposed to asbestos during their service, leading to conditions like mesothelioma. Websites like www.mesotheliomahope.com offer valuable resources and support for those affected. These conditions might also take a toll on mental health.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, support groups, and medication can help develop coping skills. Prioritize your mental well-being just as you would your physical health. Getting proper treatment enables you to fully enjoy life after service.

2. Get Regular Checkups and Screenings

It’s important to continue getting regular health exams and screenings after leaving the military. Annual physicals, dental cleanings, vision exams, cancer screenings, and lab work help detect any issues early. Be sure to share your full medical history with new healthcare providers. Also, get properly screened for conditions like PTSD and chronic pain. As mentioned earlier, veterans might be at risk of developing potentially fatal diseases such as mesothelioma. Hence, regular health screenings are necessary to detect these issues before they worsen.

3. Adopt a Nutritious Diet

Maintaining healthy eating habits is essential but can be difficult once you leave the disciplined military life. Make sure to keep your kitchen stocked with wholesome foods and meal prep to avoid grabbing fast food when busy.

A balanced diet comprised of vegetables and fruits and avoiding carbs and processed foods is the way to go. Plan weekly meals and make grocery lists to stay disciplined. Also, don’t neglect hydration. Water is essential, and its recommended intake (8 – 10 glasses throughout the day) must not be ignored.

4. Stay Physically Active

Exercise is vital for both physical and mental well-being. Staying active combats weight gain and reduces injury risk, boosts energy and mood, and relieves stress. Aim for approximately 150 minutes of moderate activity once a week, which might include brisk walking or 30 minutes of intense physical activity like running. Also, incorporate two strength training sessions per week. Joining a gym also provides a chance to socialize. Hence, maintaining fitness helps manage weight, sleep, pain levels, and mental health.

5. Prioritize Sleep

Quality sleep is essential for overall health, immune function, cognitive performance, and emotional regulation. However, many veterans struggle with sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea. Stick to a regular sleep-wake cycle and limit screen time before bed. Make your bedroom is dark, cool, and quiet. Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, gentle yoga, or reading help prepare your mind and body for sleep. If you continue having sleep issues, speak to your doctor and get evaluated for underlying conditions. 

6. Manage Stress

High stress levels negatively impact nearly every aspect of health. Long-term stress can worsen various issues, such as:

·         Anxiety

·         Depression

·         Cardiovascular issues

·         Pain

·         Gastrointestinal problems

It’s important to have healthy stress outlets like social connections and therapy. Make sure to set aside time each day to relax and recharge, and don’t be afraid to ask for help – speaking to a professional can help develop healthy coping strategies.

7. Stay Socially Connected

Strong social ties are linked to better physical and mental health. But after the camaraderie of military service, isolation, and loneliness are common struggles for veterans. Combat this by proactively building community through veterans groups, volunteer work, clubs, social sports, or local community events. Make an effort to meet neighbors, join a book club, or reach out to old friends. Spending meaningful time with loved ones provides comfort and happiness. Don’t be afraid to open up about your experiences and any difficulties transitioning to civilian life.

8. Find Your New Purpose

You might feel as if you’ve lost the will to do anything since you’re no longer wearing a uniform. However, finding some purpose after military service is crucial for mental health and life satisfaction. Explore new hobbies, volunteer work, education opportunities, or career paths that excite you. Set meaningful goals to strive towards, like training for a marathon, learning a new language, or launching a business. Having a sense of direction and making progress provides motivation and fulfillment. Be proactive about shaping your civilian life.

9. Know Your Health Care Benefits

Managing healthcare costs can be a struggle after the service, so make sure you’re well-versed in your VA health benefits.

Enroll in VA health care to access services, including primary care and mental health care. Prescription medications and substance abuse treatment are also looped in. Also, look into long-term care, aid and attendance benefits, and insurance options as well.

If you have any questions regarding the care and coverage you’ve earned, contact a VA representative. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of these resources.

Conclusion

The transition from military to civilian life brings many changes that can impact your health and mental well-being. Maintaining healthy routines and habits enables veterans to thrive once they enter civilian life. Prioritizing your physical and mental health allows you to fully enjoy life after service. Incorporate these tips into your daily routine to take control of your health now!