Military service is one of the most honorable and respectable professions. War veterans put their country’s safety before their own and are willing to take risks if it means the protection of the citizens. Of all the professions based on altruism, the military is one of the top jobs.
However, remember that as important as it is to be selfless, it is equally necessary to prioritize personal well-being. After all, how can you protect others without being in top shape yourself? This is true for all such professions but more so for the military.
One common problem war veterans face after retiring is the lack of checks and monitoring on the daily routine. Both during service and afterward, you must adopt the right lifestyle pattern to maintain good physical and mental health. Here is what war veterans can do to live healthily:
1.Include regular health checks in routine
It is easy to follow this requirement during service because military personnel gets free routine checks and medical assistance. It is challenging when you are left to deal with your health alone after service ends. You might need a more solid income or be unable to adjust it in your routine.
However, even after service, medical checks are equally crucial because, during service, you might have been exposed to some hazardous substances like lead or asbestos that might manifest later as long-term health problems. For instance, exposure to asbestos on navy ships could pose a cancer threat.
Only with routine health checks can you stay on top of such problems and catch them before they escalate.
You are what you eat; for veterans and non-veterans alike, eating healthy goes a long way in ensuring good physical and mental health, but for people in the military who are bound to have an active lifestyle, this is all the more important.
Life in the military often compels officials to maintain a healthy diet, but when service ends and the sole responsibility rests on their shoulders, some falter. Remember to continue with the right dietary choices. Steer clear of too much fast food, refrain from bakery items, and don’t skip meals.
The ideal diet includes sufficient vegetables and fruits (at least five daily portions), a solid breakfast with protein and fiber, nutrient-rich meals, and light snacks. Also, avoid too much sugar, fat, and salt, and limit your intake of alcohol
It is easy to neglect physical activity once you leave service because now there is no one but yourself monitoring your daily routine. Your active service time has likely made exercise enjoyable, so avail this to your advantage.
Adequate exercise is a must for people of all ages; it is known to improve overall mood, boost energy, develop muscle and bone strength, manage weight, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
You can even increase your life expectancy by staying active. The estimated death count can be reduced by 110,000 deaths yearly in the US if those aged 40 and older engage in more physical activity.
Start slow if your current routine includes little activity. A good practice is to exercise 30 minutes a day for two consecutive days and follow it with one day of rest. Exercise does not have to be an intense workout in the gym; walking, running, and swimming can all be excellent options.
4.Work on mental health
It is harder for veterans to stay in good mental health than to ensure good physical well-being because there is no definite way to guarantee a sound mind. However, there are ways you can practice relaxation and control your thoughts.
Yoga, mindfulness, and meditation are commonly recommended for good mental health. Yoga can relax your mind and body, ensure better sleep quality, brighten your mood, and manage stress.
Similarly,meditation increases self-awareness, improves focus, reduces unpleasant emotions, increases patience and tolerance, improves sleep quality, and boosts creativity.
Incorporate these practices into your daily routine but also don’t hesitate to seek the aid of a therapist if you feel that you cannot cope with your emotions on your own.
5.Maintain good sleep hygiene
As challenging as it might be for soldiers and military personnel to get enough sleep, getting a good night’s sleep is as important, if not more, for them as it is for anyone else. The Office of the Army Surgeon General suggests a minimum of seven hours of sleep for soldiers.
During training exercises and preparation, maintaining a good sleep schedule is hard. Veterans face similar problems after they leave service. Work on your sleep schedule in the following way;
Firstly, ensure a fixed sleep schedule, so your ‘inner’ clock adapts. Right before sleep, limit your use of mobile phones so that you aren’t exposed to blue light. Light blue light, in particular, can disturb sleep patterns. Also, avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks before sleep and eat light before bedtime. Lastly, wind down your body by reading a book, doing yoga, or taking a warm bath before sleep.
6.Develop a strong support network
We, as humans, seek social contact and support from immediate family, friends, or colleagues. Having a strong social network to fall back on in times of crisis is a blessing. Social support is known to reduce the consequences of stress, boost the immune system, make one less vulnerable to illness, and even lower the risk of premature death.
Often veterans have to spend time away from home during service. Don’t sever contact; even if it is just one phone call a week, don’t miss out on it. After retirement, you should consider joining a veteran-specific support group where you can connect with people who have had similar experiences. Make new friends, socialize, and don’t bottle up emotions.
Your lifestyle choices have a huge impact on your physical and psychological well-being. Your health is in your hands, so make the right decisions. Military service is, without a doubt, tough, but so is staying fit after service. Make regular health checks a part of your routine, eat healthy, stay active, sleep well, and socialize! Such small lifestyle changes will collectively have a tremendous positive impact on your overall well-being in the long run.