Over the course of my marriage, I have spent a lot of time alone Well, not quite alone, there were our children, our pets, and myself. Between courses, exercises, IR, and deployments, I have flown solo a time or two.
I have come to rely on a few strategies to survive, and I am not using survive in a derogatory manner. The fact I am still standing and sane by the end of a deployment is a win for me. I love my husband. He enjoys his job, which leaves me alone.
With winter here and finding myself alone again, although only for a few weeks this time, here are five strategies I have used and I am using currently to get through my time alone right now.
5 Strategies to Get Through Winter
Stay in the moment or take life in 20 minutes intervals:
While my husband was deployed last summer, the stress in my life seemed to be high. At the magazine we were in production, doing our taxes, and redesigning our website. At home I was overwhelmed with parenting, keeping up with the housework, homework, and yard work. My good friend and teammate at the magazine, Michelle, suggested we take the day in 20-minute intervals. She was also dealing with a lot of stress. The day seemed to be much more bearable when we just needed to get through 20 minutes at a time. Not eight hours, not even three hours till lunch or till the end of the day, but only 20 minutes. It worked.
Take care of yourself:
Whether you are in pre-deployment, deployment or post-deployment, looking after yourself is important. Like Sherry Lachine, our Health and Wellness writer, I too can suck at self-care. Month three of my husband’s most recent deployment I did something to my back. Some days the pain was unbearable, but I pushed on, barely able to walk. I eventually went into the doctor for a referral to physiotherapy, and then eventually booked an appointment. By eventually I mean it took me 12 weeks from the time I scheduled the doctor’s appointment to the time I went to my first physical therapy appointment. I have been feeling much better since I started physical therapy.
However, I may have looked after myself better had used HALTE: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, or Excited. I may have looked after myself quicker. HALTE helps me figure out what I may need at that specific time. If I am hungry, I need to eat. If I am angry, I need to figure out why I am angry. If I am feeling lonely, I need to call a friend or family member. If I am tired, I need to rest. And if I am excited, I need to reach out to someone.
I have hired help a few times over the years. In 2009, when my husband was deployed, we agreed to hire someone to clear the driveway. That same tour I registered our youngest son, who was two and a half years old at the time, in daycare two days a week. The break was great. It gave me the opportunity to clean the house, run errands, and rest. Currently, I order Good Food. Three meals a week come prepackaged with recipe cards. I need to only plan for four meals a week. When it comes to hiring help, do what works best for you. Maybe it is hiring someone to come in and give your house a thorough cleaning, or even just clean your floors.
Be gentle with yourself:
I believe this one speaks for itself. Try not to run yourself down. Rome was not built in a day, and most deployments start at two weeks and can last up to a year. Slow and steady will win this race. If you lose it, fall apart, or feel overwhelmed, find an activity that can help you recharge, regroup, and refocus. Maybe it is binge-watching Netflix or going to the gym. Don’t focus on berating yourself–instead, find the solution, stand up, dust yourself off, and move forward. You have got this!
Take advantages of programs:
Check out your local Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC). Often there are programs for families living through a deployment. The programs offered can vary. Sometimes there are day trips, childcare, drop-in groups, and coffee hours. Use them. At the very least, check them out to see if they offer anything for you. Maybe they will fill a void in your life while your loved one is deployed. I attended church regularly when we arrived in Edmonton. In fact, my children received the best attendance award at the end of the year. I am not going to lie, I did go for God, but I also went for peace. Just sitting in a pew, where nobody required anything from me was divine.