SEPTEMBER 19, 2014 – The time is finally here; you’ve finished your deployment and you are returning to your family. Although coming home can be an incredibly joyous time, it can also be stressful as you try to return to a new sense of “normal.”
While a lot of attention is directed at the actual deployment and being separated from your friends and families, there doesn’t seem to be as much advice directed at how to acclimate to being back home, Military notes. The following tips can help members of the military decompress and relax once their time of service has ended:
Allow yourself time to get to know your spouse again
Even though you may have really missed your spouse while you were away, it’s not unusual for husbands and wives to feel a bit more like strangers than partners during the first few days of return. The service member might be looking forward to doing nothing but hanging out at home, while the spouse might have planned several welcome home parties, and has invited some guests from out of town. In order to make the first few days after deployment as stress-free as possible, make time for your family, and try to delay any big celebrations with others until you are back in your routine. Also, sit down and talk with your spouse and get to know him or her again. Schedule some date nights where the two of you can leave the kiddos at home and head out for a nice dinner or just some time wandering around at the mall.
Spend quality and quantity time with your children
Set aside some special one-on-one time with each of your kids, and reacquaint yourself with them and their personalities and interests – they might have changed a bit while you were away. As National Association of School Psychologists notes, kids can react in different ways to having their mom or dad back home. In the case of really young children, they might not recognize you at first, and may need extra time to remember you. In many cases, a teen’s reaction to a post-deployment return will probably match the way he or she acted before; if you spent time with your teen and had a nice relationship prior to your leaving, it will probably be positive and pleasant again now that you are home.
Consider taking up a new hobby, or re-discovering an old one
A good way to try to unwind and relax after your deployment is to engage in activities that will keep you busy and help you to de-stress. If you enjoyed doing different hobbies and activities prior to your deployment, you can take those up again. From tinkering with cars out in the garage, going on hikes or rediscovering your old coin collection, try to spend a little time each day doing something just for yourself.
You can also take up a new activity that you’ve always wanted to try; for instance, if you’ve always dreamed of buying a dirt bike and heading out on your local trails, go ahead and stock up on motocross gear and accessories from an online company like MotoSport and head out for some fun rides. If you find that you have more time on your hands than you are used to, you can also consider volunteering at a local charity or maybe even your kids’ school; spending a morning or two every week reading to children or walking dogs at an animal shelter can be very relaxing and help you unwind.
Be on the lookout for PTSD
If you feel like you are always anxious, disconnected from your family, or angry much of the time, you might be dealing with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. As Help Guide notes, these are common feelings that affect as many as 30 percent of military servicemen and women. Creating a safe place where you can just go and sit and think can be extremely helpful. Ideally, it should be a private place where you don’t have to be concerned with others popping in on you, and you might want to add relaxing touches like photos of your family or posters of beautiful vacation spots.