We all crave to feel normal during change, especially through military transitions.
And before you read any further, know this right off the bat:
Transition means change. And change means that things are no longer “normal”.
HOWEVER, there are still things you can do to help feel a bit more normal amidst change.
First, what counts as a “transition phase”?
Honestly, anything that involves change.
Deployment, reintegration, moving, retirement, and switching branches are just a few examples.
Others include going from their training to their job, getting married, starting or ending a TDY…
The list goes on and on.
Basically, any change, big or small, results in a transition phase.
Ok, so HOW do I start to feel “normal” again?
I’ve compiled a list of SIX things you can do to get yourself started.
You don’t have to do all six, but I’d recommend finding at least one that resonates with you.
1. Allow yourself to feel all of the feelings that come up
Happy, sad, stressed, upset, frustrated, annoyed…
It’s perfectly normal to feel all of these things (and more) when going through a big life change or transition.
Instead of trying to fight against yourself, allow space for these feelings to reside. None of these feelings are wrong.
You are allowed to feel upset (or not) when you find out you’re moving away from all that you know.
You are allowed to feel terrified (or not) when your service member leaves for deployment.
And none of them make you unqualified or unfit to be a part of this community of military spouses, significant others, and loved ones.
The ones who love military life are just as valid as the ones who hate it.
2. Implement something from your old schedule
Find something you used to do consistently, and then keep doing it, or find a way to implement something similar.
This could be anything from continuing your daily morning walks to going to spouse group events.
Consistency is arguably the best way to find a sense of normalcy through transitions.
To give you a better idea of what I mean, here’s what I continued to do throughout my husbands chaotic training schedules:
I woke up at the same time everyday. I always went to the grocery store on Tuesdays, even if he wasn’t around to help. I would go to church on Sundays, no matter where we were, and even if he couldn’t go. And I would try to get outside once a day, no matter where we were living or if he was with me.
Obviously, the bigger, the change, the more creative you have to get.
But even simply paying attention to what hasn’t changed can make a huge difference.
3. Start journaling
A great way that some people cope and deal with transitions is to journal.
Writing down what you’re thinking and feeling can be so relieving.
You can control what you include on the page, and how you want to remember and look back on this time.
Plus, seeing all of your thoughts written out on paper can help remind you what you are in control of, regardless of the changes happening around you.
4. Consider talking to a professional
If speaking to a therapist, counselor, or other mental health professional has crossed your mind, genuinely consider finding someone to talk to.
Through Tricare, you can see a mental health professional (such as a counselor or therapist) WITHOUT needing a referral of any kind, regardless of your specific Tricare plan, at no cost to you.
The only exception is if you need to see a psychoanalyst or desire substance abuse care.
Here you can view a list of ALL mental health related services that are covered.
You might also want to read through my blog post “Mental Health Resources for Military Dependents”.
5. Do things that you love
Intentionally schedule time out of your day or week to do something that brings you joy!
(And I’d recommend finding something that hasn’t changed.)
Doing something you love, but without your person or in a new area, can bring more feelings of sadness than joy.
Find something that virtually hasn’t changed, like painting at home or watching your favorite movie.
Putting yourself as “back to normal” as possible is a great way to remember the joys you used to experience.
It will help remind you that you can still feel that joy and comfort through this change.
6. Remember that things don’t have to go back to normal
During, and after, transition phases, things may not ever go back to you’re old “normal”.
And that’s ok.
Change is what moves us forward and helps us grow, even though it’s uncomfortable in the moment.
“Normal” just means something we’re used to.
And getting back into a comfortable place, simply put, takes time.
My thoughts and heart are with you. If you need extra support or love right now, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!
Resources for specific transition phases
Below you’ll find some of the most common transition phases in the military, as well as a few resources available to you.
Reintegration after deployment
For other types of transitions, check out this giant list of resources listed by branch.