Mindfulness

Military life is beautiful, exciting, heartbreaking and exhausting all at once. From OCONUS to CONUS moves, trainings that seem so frequent it all just becomes a blur, to deployments that go by at snail speed. On what feels like a rare occasion, when you and your spouse get downtime to sit and chat, have you ever reflected on all that you’ve been through as a military family?

We’re here to tell you that you are resilient! Need proof? Just look at the number of curtains you have accumulated from all the moves. Life in the military, whether you are an AD service member, a veteran or a family member, necessitates resilience. You need to be flexible enough to bounce back from the news of an unscheduled deployment. Agile enough to pivot when your spouse’s VA appointment is canceled last minute. You need to be able to recover when life decides you are going in a different direction. And sometimes, that means taking a deep breath and reconnect with your purpose.

This is where “mindfulness” comes in. But what is mindfulness?

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress-Reduction, describes mindfulness as, “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

Through our Resilient Warrior and Resilient Family trainings, veterans and military spouses and caregivers can learn how to effectively practice mindfulness activities and incorporate them in their everyday life.

I know, you’re probably thinking, “really you want me to add another task to my day? How is that even possible?” Here are 5 ways you can effortlessly incorporate mindfulness practices into your day to reduce stress and increase your presence.

  1. THINK about breathing – Incorporate breath awareness into an activity you already do: jogging, vacuuming, lifting weights, washing dishes or simply walking to and from the mailbox to grab your mail.

Check out these great breathing activities for the whole family on our blog.

  1. THINK about what you eat – Mindful eating not only has psychological benefits, like practicing mindfulness in general, but it also makes you more aware of what you are putting in your body so the effects can reverberate into the domain of healthier eating.
  2. FOCUS on the positive – Be aware of the small positive things that happen in your daily life. In our Resilient Warrior course, we do an exercise called “New and Goods” where each person takes a turn saying something good that happened that day and refraining from downplaying those positives with a “BUT…” statement.
  3. DO Yoga – Incorporate some yoga stretching in your everyday routine. Some simple seated stretches can easily be done at several points in the day. Sitting at a red light? Do some shoulder shrugs. Inhale your shoulders up high to your ears. Clench them tightly. The exhale through your mouth releasing your shoulders down. Do this until the light turns green. At the next red light do some gentle neck rolls. Voila! Multi-tasking at its finest!
  4. PRACTICE gratitude – Spend some time every day, thinking about, discussing, and/or writing at least one thing that you are thankful for and make sure to think about how grateful you feel.

Resources: https://www.developgoodhabits.com/best-mindfulness-apps/

A tip from Hope For The Warriors Social Worker, Dana:

I keep card decks that give suggestions for mindfulness activities on my desk all the time. These are my favorites. There are times when we need a kick start or something to ground us in a mindfulness practice. When I have a 3-5 minute window before a meeting starts, while waiting for someone or as a re-centering transition from one activity to another, I will pick a card from one of the different decks. Some cards provide a suggestion for a mindfulness activity that can be brought into the rest of your day, and some include inspirational messages that you can meditate about. There are a whole variety of these card decks out there for you to choose from. Find one that inspires you!