5 Reasons Why You're Not Happy After the Military May 11 2016 22 Comments
If you were like most service members leaving the military you were as happy and as giddy as a 7-year-old child the night before Christmas morning. You walked taller, you smiled more, and you probably bragged a bit to everyone in your unit that it was time for you to ETS and your were going to get the greatest gift of all – your DD214 (or was that just me?!?). After all, you had big dreams like going back to school, getting a real cool (high paying) civilian job, and of course, spending more time with your family. And maybe you were fortunate enough to do all of that, but ever since you got out, even more so now, you might feel like you miss the military and you WISH you were as happy as you were while you were in the service. Your memory of that time (even if it was tough as hell) is that you felt better, you looked better, and some of you may have even done better financially and emotionally. And perhaps all of that is true, but you’re out now, and unless you have plans to reenlist, it’s time to make the most of what your present moment. It's time to recognize what has changed after you got out and to figure out how to get that “good feeling” back.
1. You Used to Exercise Regularly
When we were in the service, most of us got a daily dose of exercise as a kick start to our day. Although it may seem like a relief to be over with this daily ritual, exercise actually contributes to our overall mental state, not to mention our waistline! Studies at the Mayo Clinic say regular exercise makes us naturally feel good, because it releases happy feel good chemicals and kills off bad chemicals that increase depression.
Now some of you maybe thinking – well I have bad knees, my back hurts, my shoulder is always sore, I CAN’T exercise anymore. I can totally relate! My back and neck are so bad some days it feels like I was hit by a Mack truck! However, when I go through long stints without finding some sort of exercise that works for me (especially exercises that strengthen the muscles around my problem areas), the pain actually increases instead of decreases (read last blog post). Regular exercise-doing what YOUR body (not your neighbor’s body) is physically capable of doing will make a difference in how you feel both inside and out! Find alternative workouts like yoga at a local gym or even a physical trainer who understands your condition and who can help you get back into a better physical shape – the investment can make a world of difference! And one last note, if you have trouble getting a trainer or affording one, speak to you VA health care provider about getting physical therapist to help you, they will be able to teach you exercises that can reduce your pain and increase your overall mobility.
2. You Had a Sense of Purpose
Most, if not all of us who are reading this blog post, joined the military as a volunteer, this gave us a sense of purpose and duty. However, leaving the service might make use feel adrift without a compass to point us in the right direction. Some people find their purpose with family, through work, by volunteering, or through a combination of all three.
Volunteering for causes you believe in actually has multiple benefits, not only are you helping other people and organizations, you are also helping yourself at the same time. U.S News & World Report found that volunteering can increase your self esteem, give you stability, a sense of belonging, and even improve increase your life expectancy! It’s important to find what your purpose is if you don’t already know and volunteering can be a great place to start while you search for your higher calling.
3. You Were Always Learning New Skills
It seems, when we were in the military, we were always training! Right? We were constantly on the go, taught new skills, learning and adapting ourselves to many physical and mental obstacles. These exercises not only helped combat readiness, it also kept our brains sharper and happier too.
Just because we left the military does not mean we have to discontinue the mission of personal growth! This education can be formal, like going back to school or vocational training, or it could be for fun, like learning a new skill you’ve always wanted to try, or pick up a book at your local library and dedicate some time to reading something you’ve always wanted to know more about. Studies have reported that adult education keeps our minds sharp and it too provides us with a sense of purpose when we’re learning something we truly care about.
4. You Had a Regular Routine
You had a routine. You could probably still name list all the times for physical fitness, chow, work and so on. How about in your life now? Do you keep a routine? Although life with a routine sounds like a snooze, it actually provides structure and helps keep us organized (= less stress), makes time for exercise (= happier). Additionally, a routine helps create time for your goals and your personal desires. If you haven’t thought about a schedule, commit to trying one for the next 30 days. Schedule time like exercise and reading, but don’t overdue it if it’s new territory for you. The goal is to make your life less stressful not more so. Source
5. You Had Different Expectations
A lot of times we get hung up on our expectations and it has a way of destroying our current reality. Many of us thought we could land a sweet dream job or just go back into civilian life and everything would be like it was before. But truth is, for most people getting out, their reality wasn't exactly what they had anticipated. This can be both positive and negative thing. When our reality exceeds our expectations, then we are ecstatic about life. However, when it falls below our expectations we feel sad, angry, and upset about how our life is going. Those who can readjust fire and adapt their reality or their expectation (or a combination of the two) usually recover quicker and are much happier in the long run. What are some expectations that you might be hanging on to? Could they be holding you down from leading a happier life? Take some time to think about it and see where you can make some changes!
I hope these insights will prove beneficial to you, I must remind myself and practice them daily as well! Just remember the past has given you the experiences and lessons you needed to make the most out of today. I wish you all the best!
-Nadine Noky, Army Veteran & Founder of Lady Brigade