- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Military Spouse Series: Mission Transition - Stressed Much?
by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Wil-Trans

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Do you find yourself feeling a bit out of sorts lately?

military to civilian career transition with your spouseIf you’re in the process of a military to civilian career transition with your spouse, it’s completely understandable. Even just thinking about it is enough to raise your blood pressure, rev up your fight-or-flight mojo and get you daydreaming about maintaining a uniformed status quo.

At this time in your life, you have many unanswered questions that can cause you angst.

Where will you and your spouse go after you get out?

What will you do professionally in a new post-active duty world?

Will you be able to land a good position in today’s tough job market?

How will you land that position?

How will your family adjust to life outside the proverbial main gate?

How will everything possibly come together in the time frame you need it to?

Take some degree of comfort in knowing that any time you make, or start to mentally prepare for a major career and life change, you and everyone under the same roof can expect to feel a wide range of emotions. In short, you can expect to feel stressed. Accept that this is completely normal and that it can even be a healthy motivator.

Stressed spelled backwards is desserts, after all. That can’t be all bad, can it?

To help you deal with the stress that can accompany a military to civilian career transition with your spouse, know:

- How to recognize stress when you see it or feel it

- How to manage it effectively
- Where to go if you need more than this list of helpful tips to get you and those you love through this mother-of-all career transitions.

Recognizing the Signs of Stress

You or someone near to you might be stressed if these signs are present:

- Moodiness

- Irritability or a short temper

- Agitation and/or an inability to relax

- A feeling of being overwhelmed

- A sense of loneliness and isolation

- A feeling of depression or general unhappiness

Stress shows up physically, too. Aches, pains, frequent colds, chest pains, and diarrhea or constipation may really be physical signs of stress. Things that used to bring great joy may no longer be meaningful.

If you’re feeling stressed, you might start forgetting things and find it hard to concentrate. Your normally good judgment goes far, far away and negativity takes over.

It may seem like you are entering a dark place where your eating and/or sleeping patterns change dramatically. To relax, you may find yourself coping by using/abusing alcohol, drugs, and/or cigarettes. Your waistline may suffer from overeating and your wallet may suffer from overspending.

Seven Tips for Managing Transition Stress

1. Breathe. It’s such a simple act and yet it is an effective one. Take the time to breathe deeply and purposefully. Not only does proper breathing add much-needed oxygen to your lungs, but it also lowers your heart rate and gives you a moment to pull it back together.

2. Meditate. Find a quiet place, turn the lights off, and make yourself comfortable for 10 to 15 minutes. Clear your mind and visualize those places or moments in time -- real or imagined -- that bring you the most peace.

3. Let it go. Some things are out of your control. Put forth your best effort and then just let it go.

4. Manage your time more effectively. At this particular point in your life, you have a lot of important and life-changing activities going on simultaneously. Don’t try to accomplish everything at once. Know when to say when and stick by it.

5. Take care of your body. No one needs to remind you of the mind-body connection. It’s very real. Take care of your body, and your mind will be clear and ready for the challenges of transition that lay before you.

6. Take care of your mind. Don’t let your life get absorbed by this transition. Enrich yourself mentally with other things that bring you happiness. Fifteen minutes a day spent reading a favorite book, journaling your thoughts, or communing with nature can help you work through the stress.

7. Take care of your soul. Routinely tap into your own source of spiritual strength.

When You Need More than Helpful Tips

If you or someone you care about needs more help than a convenient checklist can provide, then be strong enough to reach out for professional assistance.

Here are potential resources, should you need them:

- An on- or off-post member of the clergy

- The military family support center

- A Military OneSource consultant (1.800.342.9647/ - The nearest hospital or emergency room

- The American Psychological Association (

- Mental Health America (

Janet Farley is the author of "The Military Spouse’s Guide to Employment: Smart Jobs for Mobile Lifestyles” (Impact Publications, 2012) and “Quick Military Transition Guide: Seven Steps to Landing a Civilian Job” (Jist Publishing, Inc., 2012). Follow her on Twitter @mil2civguide and @smartjobchoices for tips, news and inspiration.

U.S. Air Force photo by Val Gempis

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