By Staff Sgt. Tanya Polk, 4IBCT Public AffairsAugust 17, 2012
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Separation is tough; especially while your Soldier is deployed to combat.
Long deployments can sometimes wreak havoc on relationships, but there are ways to help cope with the stresses so many people incur. Here are some tips to help you manage while your Family Member is deployed.
Break up the deployment into smaller time periods. Instead of counting down the days starting at 365, take it one week, one month or a few months at a time. I used to compare a deployment to pregnancy trimesters. Every three months you advance to a different stage and have overcome the stresses in the previous stage. Breaking up the deployment onto smaller time periods can help make the time seem less intimidating.
Get rest, eat healthy. Establish a routine bedtime hour. Sometimes stress causes us to stay awake, but a lack of sleep can cause us to forget things and keep us off our daily schedule. Eat balanced meals. Sometimes we think that a double cheeseburger or slice of cake might help make us feel better, but in actuality, eating unhealthy and then gaining unwanted weight can increase your stress and depression.
Stay active and get involved. Get involved in the community or explore new hobbies. Your Family readiness group is a good way to stay involved or try your hand at some volunteer work. You'll keep your mind busy and feel accomplished after helping others in need.
Use military support resources. There are several military support resources available on Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield and on the internet. Reach out to Army Community Service and spouse support groups. Not only will you get the help you need to cope during the deployment but you have the opportunity to make new friends who may be struggling with some of the same issues. Remember, you are not alone.
Seek spiritual support. Rely on your faith to help get you through. This is a great time to attend services. Unit Ministry Teams are also available to support you and provide you with spiritual guidance.
Face your feelings; do not drown your sorrows: Take things one day at a time. It's ok to have a good cry. Let out your emotions -- you are going to have good and bad days. When days seem real bad, reach out to a friend or try and find the humor in things. Reflect back on good and fun memories and think about how much fun you will have when your Family Member returns. Remember the old saying- laughter is the best medicine.
Set goals: Think about what you'd like to accomplish before your Soldier returns. It could be completing an online course or a physical fitness goal. Setting goals will give you something to work toward and keep you busy while your loved one is away.