Staying Healthy After Active Duty Years: Tips for Veterans

When it comes to challenging professions, few can compare to being in the military. Active-duty personnel often face some of the most physically and mentally challenging situations. These may include spending months, even years away from home, deployed in foreign countries, and having to do with bare minimum living conditions. That’s not to take away from the feeling of pride associated with such occupations.

However, once you’re back home after serving the army and settling into retirement, it’s more important than ever to take care of your physical and mental well-being. Aging, chronic disease, and PTSD can profoundly impact your retirement life. Below are some helpful tips to help you get started.

Staying Healthy After Active Duty Years Tips for Veterans

Be vigilant

One of the best ways to protect your health is simply by being vigilant and watching for any troubling symptoms of ill-health. It can be easy to dismiss certain symptoms as random, unthreatening occurrences, but as you age, you must keep an eye out for any persistent difficulties. If you feel a certain problem has gone on too long and doesn’t get better, it might be time for a checkup.

You should watch out for signs of a persistent cough, chest pain, fatigue, unexplainable fever, and weight loss in particular. These may be the warning signs of mesothelioma- a fatal cancer that military veterans are susceptible to. Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure, and veterans can encounter this toxic mineral in equipment while on active duty. Although it is a time-sensitive condition, getting in touch with a veterans mesothelioma center and a doctor can help you manage treatment. So don’t delay your routine medical checkups.

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Don’t drink too much

For many veterans, this later stage of their lives is about living it up and making up for the time spent away from friends and loved ones. You might feel like letting loose once in a while isn’t that big a deal, but you might be looking at a problem when the nights out at the pub with the old gang keep stacking up. When you have a few drinks every day, you might be causing some serious damage to your body.

Alcohol addiction can become a problem for veterans with mental health problems like PTSD. Your body is also much weaker to counter the adverse chemical effects alcohol has on the cardiovascular system. Too much alcohol can severely impact your liver, and you might develop issues that seriously impact your quality of life. Drinking also hampers focus and decision-making in the long run. So steering clear of the bar on most days is your best bet at maintaining your health.

Watch out for your mental health

Military veterans are lauded for their bravery, even in the face of some of the most challenging situations. But not many talk about the lasting effects of this bravery. On-duty military personnel has to constantly deal with situations that can be life-threatening and need to make decisions that sometimes haunt them for the rest of their lives. The mental trauma that follows leaves lasting psychological wounds.

Psychological wounds like trauma run so deep that every year more veterans die because of suicide than they do in combat. PTSD, formerly known as shell shock, is the most common cause of death in veterans, followed by depression, anxiety, and even paranoia. If you experience depression, flashbacks, and guilt, consulting a qualified mental health professional can help you heal. It may seem challenging to share your emotions and experiences, but once you break the ice with a therapist, you’ll be able to cope with your problems skillfully. It will also prevent the trauma from straining your relationships with people close to you.

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Stay fit

Taking care of your physical well-being is part of your routine when you’re on duty. A huge part of your day can be devoted to working out and undergoing strenuous training, which can help you build muscle and strength. But, once you retire, sticking to that same fitness level can be challenging.

While you might not be able to work out as vigorously as before, that doesn’t mean you have to slack completely. Going for a jog, lifting some weights, or even trying something new like yoga or Pilates can help you stay fit and keep your energy levels high. Regular exercise can help reduce cholesterol, boost circulation, improve focus, and bolster your immune system. Moreover, finding time to work out can give your life the order and discipline you had during your active years.

Get a full night’s sleep

You might have had to go several days without catching a good night’s sleep while on duty. Such patterns can easily stick, and you might find it hard to sleep through the night properly over time. However, getting proper sleep is essential for maintaining optimal body function. When you’re low on sleep, your body can find it hard to focus, you might be irritable, and your immune system will also be weak. For this reason, try to clock in seven to nine hours of sleep every day.

If you find it hard to sleep, consider taking up calming activities such as meditation, which can help you wind down and relax. Putting your phone away an hour before bed and reading a book can also prepare your body for a good night’s slumber. The more you stick to a set schedule, the easier it’ll be for your body to adjust. If you’re still having trouble, ask your doctor for a prescription. That should help you sleep well.

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Conclusion

Life after duty can seem challenging when you’ve spent a huge portion of your life in a unique environment. But during retirement, you finally have time to take care of yourself and relax. Taking care of your physical and mental well-being is essential for overall health, and this guide can help you. Following these tips can help you ensure holistic well-being and can enable you to thrive and lead a fulfilling retired life.

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