Retirement from military service can be an exciting yet challenging phase for many. It is a 180-degree shift to a new routine that you may have left decades before transitioning to military life. While shifting to a new routine of becoming a veteran can be challenging, it is time to develop new routines and habits to take better care of yourself.
Looking after your health by developing positive habits, you can minimize the risk of a life-long illness and fully enjoy your retirement. While for some, health may get compromised during active duty, like an injury or an illness, it isn’t the end of the road. You can still look for ways to take care of yourself and have a happy retirement. Here are 7 tips to start a healthy lifestyle after the military.
Get a detailed health exam
When you get discharged from active duty, seek medical care. Book a consultation with your healthcare provider and get yourself checked for any injuries, illnesses, or health risks. Military veterans are exposed to many harmful chemicals and substances during active duty, not to mention the risk of losing a limb or experiencing shell shock. Look up “mesothelioma navy,” and you would come across shocking statistics of navy veterans developing an asbestos-related illness. The navy and other military departments are also at an increased risk of asbestos exposure, so get yourself checked for asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma. Navy veterans are at an increased risk of encountering asbestos; get yourself medically examined as soon as you get out.
Get hold of your finances
The military provides many financial and healthcare benefits for veterans and their family members. In case of a health risk like mesothelioma, you can contact organizations like the Mesothelioma Veterans Center to provide financial, healthcare, and legal assistance to prepare for a lawsuit. However, regardless of a steady flow of income, you must know how to manage your money. First, enlist all due expenses, debts, or healthcare emergencies you must pay for. Often, treatment for illnesses or surgeries may need to be taken care of right after discharge from active duty. Aside from that, make a budget for your expenses and your family. Budgeting and planning may be a challenging task at first, but slowly you will get the hang of it.
Prepare yourself for the shift
Whether you were an active soldier for years or decades, returning to civilian life can bring feelings of overwhelm and nervousness which are normal. Acknowledge yourself for spending time in a demanding role like military personnel. Military service forces you to leave behind a life of comfort to focus on new responsibilities and relationships. Going back into that life of comfort might seem rigid and complex, but it’s doable. Keeping an open mindset toward a new way of living would ease the emotional and mental burden of making a shift.
Find the right company
Retirement may be the perfect time for you to change your surroundings and forge new relationships. While for some, it may be the ideal time to spend in solitude. Whether you move to a city bustling with people or spend your retirement years in a small town with a calm countryside vibe, find what suits you best. Some veterans find comfort in being surrounded by other veterans or retirees in a community center or a veterans’ facility. Others like to immerse themselves in culture, nature, or city life. Whatever your ultimate choice is, it must be the right fit for you and one that provides you with peace of mind.
Reinvent yourself through a new purpose
One of the best ways to spend retirement years is to reinvent yourself by finding a new hobby or activity or renewing your life’s purpose. Many people resort to military service to regain feelings of accomplishment and being of service to others; however, you can find more ways to feel that way after retirement. Whether in a new career or volunteering, you can mentor or help people in many ways. Many veterans’ facilities provide a range of volunteering activities and vocational training to help you seek a new career path. Reinventing your life’s purpose is necessary to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Spending your retirement idly can cause additional health risks and impact your mental health. Therefore, finding a new purpose may help keep your health in check.
Create a fitness plan
While you may not need excessive physical exercise like before, a light jog or walk around the neighborhood can help keep your limbs in shape. It can be difficult for your mind and body to forego past habits, especially hours of strength training abruptly. Therefore, create a fitness plan when you enter retirement. You may not need hours of weight lifting or strength training at the gym, but moderate exercise can also curb other health risks. Regular cardio helps keep your heart in shape, improve stamina and boost mood. Focus on movements that will enhance strength and flexibility. You can also join a veterans center for guided physical fitness routines or get help from many online resources.
Seek nutritional balance
Your nutritional needs will change once you leave military service since you will no longer do strenuous physical tasks. In addition, you would notice a shift in your body after retirement. Apart from apparent changes due to aging, a shift in your routine may not require the same nutrition as before. You would need to alter your diet plan to fit your new lifestyle. Perhaps you would feel encouraged to try out new types of food and gain a new sense of well-being. However, be cautious not to overeat or indulge in negative habits that may put your health at risk. Consume food from all five groups and ensure you take the right calories daily.
Transitioning from a rigid military lifestyle to a civilian one can be tough. Still, with some preparation, you can seek a healthy balance. Besides nutritional changes or fitness plans, try staying active even after retiring. Involve yourself in activities you enjoyed earlier, like reading, cooking, or gardening. Retirement is the perfect time to build new connections and focus on your health.