On-duty military personnel live a healthy life and engage in rigorous physical training. But the same might not happen when they leave the military. You are no longer required to be part of group training or pass fitness tests. However, arduous and forced these activities might have seemed at that time, you might miss your daily calorie burn after transitioning to civilian life.
In your post-military life, no one forces you to get up early and run for several kilometers. You must manage your fitness routine to ensure your health remains in the best condition. Apart from physical health, you have to preserve your mental health too. Fighting in war zones, experiencing death, and exposure to harmful substances can deteriorate your mental wellbeing. Therefore, it is common for war veterans to experience issues like depression, anxiety, nightmares, seclusion, etc.
Fortunately, there are some ways through which veterans can care for their mental and physical health after leaving the service.
1. Frequent medical checkups
During service, military personnel undergo regular medical checkups to ensure they are always fit to serve the country. However, veterans do not enjoy the same perks, so they must arrange for their medical checkups themselves. Particularly, they must ensure that there are no hidden or lingering effects caused by their service like PTSD, depression, loss of hearing, limited range of motion, or even cancers like mesothelioma.
Frequent checkups allow for early diagnosis of issues to prevent devastating or even deadly effects, like in the case of mesothelioma. In the early 20th century, asbestos-containing products were extensively used in the military, traces of which are still found today. As a result, many veterans are diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by persistent exposure to asbestos. Thus, all war veterans must get regular medical checkups and, if needed, visit mesotheliomaveterans.org to get information about this condition, compensation, benefits, etc.
2. Drink more water
Keeping your body hydrated is essential for keeping your organs healthy. Drinking water regularly during the day keeps you rejuvenated, regulates your body temperature, and strengthens your kidneys.
The best time to drink water is right after getting up in the morning. Before taking your morning coffee or tea, drink a few glasses of water. Starting your day with a dose of plain water means putting the right foot out and booting up your brain, gut, and kidneys.
3. Engage in mentally stimulating activities
Military men often work on complex plans and strategies to attack the enemy or keep their territory safe. So their minds are constantly engaged in stimulating activities. You might not get to plan and strategize in the same way when you retire. But you can still keep your mind engaged in mentally-stimulating activities such as solving puzzles, playing riddles or games of chess with your friends, and other similar activities. Your mind is a fascinating organ; the more you stimulate it, the better it gets at problem-solving and critical thinking. So, involve it in mentally challenging tasks.
4. Keep yourself active
Leaving the service does not mean you can stay at home, rest all day and get fat; you have to keep yourself active as you did during your service. Exercise is the best way to keep yourself active. Exercise strengthens your muscles, boosts your immune system, and helps you fight diseases better. Exercise also improves your mood, dispels negative thoughts and pessimism, and improves your self-esteem.
However, exercise is not the only way to keep your body active. You can opt for other activities such as cycling, swimming, playing basketball, and brisk walking. Taking thirty minutes out of your daily routine for your health is enough.
You can visit the nearby park and acquaint yourself with nature or hit the gym for a short, sweaty session. Having an exercise buddy accompanying you is the cherry on top. You can ask a friend or your spouse to come with you and make your physical activity a more fulfilling and fun time.
5. Make better food choices
Unlike working in the military, where you are always in a hurry trying to reach somewhere or report to your supervisor, now you have ample time. You are no longer required to fill your stomach with anything you get your hands on. Besides, in the past, thanks to your active life, your metabolism was fast enough to process everything and still keep you in shape. But after leaving the service, you need to be careful. Your life will not be as active as it used to be, and your metabolism will slow down, too, so be mindful of what you put into your mouth.
Understand how your food choices affect your life. Instead of binging on unhealthy food, subsisting on take-outs and frozen food, start making healthier food choices. Make sure you eat healthy food that fulfills your nutritional requirements. Your food should have healthy portions of grains, proteins, carbs, dairy, lentils, poultry, etc. Most importantly, don’t live to eat; instead, focus on eating only as much you need because overeating can be detrimental to your health.
6. Be consistent in your efforts
Keeping yourself healthy and fit is an ongoing activity. You cannot eat a healthy diet for a few days and assume you will stay fit for the rest of your life. Similarly, doing the exercise once in a while and forgetting about it for months will take you nowhere. So, you need to be consistent in your efforts.
Have a dedicated fitness and workout regime. If doing exercise in the house is distracting, buy a gym membership. Similarly, delete all the contacts of fast food places from your phone so you don’t get the temptation to call and quickly order pizza or burger when the hunger kicks in.
If you need additional motivation, read books by retired army personnel to see how they managed their life post-retirement. Such books will never let you feel low on motivation.
7. Take care of your mental health
Military personnel report facing many post-service mental health issues. This is especially true for people who have spent most of their time in war zones and combat situations where they experience the worst side of humanity. Stress, depression, nightmares, insomnia, low social participation, etc., are common mental health issues reported by war veterans.
Additionally, a civilian life might be a shock when you find it is quite different from your previous life. Accepting and transitioning to this change can be depressing too. Therefore, addressing mental health issues should be a priority too. This may require you to see a therapist or counselor.
Staying healthy and fit is as important for war veterans as it is for civilians. War veterans live a more active life than civilians. Besides, their new life may come to them as a shock. In this situation, engaging in a healthy lifestyle can help them with their transitioning period and keep them fit and healthy simultaneously.