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4 Health and Wellness Tips for Veterans

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Coming home after serving in the armed forces takes work. Transitioning from serving in the military to integrating yourself back into civilian life can take a toll, especially when you have to develop a routine and structure. According to the US Census Bureau, about 16.5 million veterans lived in the US in 2021. So the system is no stranger when providing resources to look after yourself. But how do you ensure you get back into shape and stay healthy as you adjust to your new life? Here's what you need to know:


1. Go for a Complete Physical Evaluation

It is common for veterans to have health problems and conditions. Depending on when you served in the armed forces, you may deal with issues that need to be examined thoroughly and treated immediately. For instance, if you happened to be in the military in the 1980s, there's a high chance you may have experienced intense exposure to asbestos. This microscopic fiber used in weapons, bunkers, and military vehicles is airborne and accumulates within your body, eventually leading to mesothelioma.


Mesothelioma targets four significant parts of your body, including the lungs, heart, stomach, and groin region. Since the symptoms are experienced much later in life, the treatment involved is expensive and lengthy. However, if you or someone you know has mesothelioma, consider going online and search for mesothelioma veterans to figure out what type of assistance applies to your case and get the help you need. 


A doctor can also revisit older wounds and ensure they have healed adequately, so you're not susceptible to any infections. Hence if your medical practitioner advises you to go for tests and checkups, ensure that you do so.


2. Support Your Mental Health

Veterans often require help with their mental health. There may be a lot on your mind, from wanting to discuss the events you watch unfold before your eyes to the reality you had to live through during your time in the military. The only way you can cope is by actively seeking help. 


Certain veterans also experience PTSD, night terrors, and anxiety after they've been discharged; hence if you're in the same boat, you should seek help. When it comes to mental health support, you can find it in the form of a counselor or a therapist. These mental health professionals have the training and qualification needed to handle your case. These experts will help you cope with your trauma and identify the source of your distress. Above all, you can talk about everything you felt and thought without fearing judgment. 


Therapists and counselors employ different techniques to make you feel comfortable to open up and bring positive changes to your behavior. This includes cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical therapy. However, you may need to see a psychiatrist if you want a more clinical approach. Therapists are not licensed to prescribe you medication, but a psychiatrist can under controlled circumstances. By choosing to go to therapy, you'll notice that you feel much lighter, no longer feel stressed, and less agitated by the life you lived in the armed forces. You'll be at peace with your thoughts and find it easier to move on and live your life.


3. Modify Your Diet

You need to monitor your diet as you adjust to civilian life. Back in the military, you may have been used to a strict diet that is both calorie-restrictive and high protein. However, since you're no longer following that rigid routine, you need to develop a diet plan that gives you the nutrients you need without any health complications like cholesterol or weight gain. Furthermore, as you age, your metabolism also slows down. So what you could have easily consumed while in the army may take longer to digest now. This is why you should look into meals that are low in carbs, have moderate calories, and contain no processed sugars. If you're sure where to start, you can consult a dietician and get a customized plan adjusted to your needs and body mass index (BMI)


Try consuming more vegetables that are leafy and crunchy. If you enjoy eating meat, look for ways to grill it instead of deep frying it. If you're curious about trying different cuisines, you may enjoy delving into Mediterranean dishes as they're flavorful and low in fat. Likewise, ensure you eat at least three meals a day and keep yourself hydrated. You should also introduce vitamins like B, C, and A into your diet to supplement your health. Additionally, avoid alcohol and caffeine, and shift to fresh juices instead.


4. Be Physically Active

Exercising is a great way to keep your health in check and your body toned. Physical exertion improves circulation, breathing, and heart rate. A good workout session can also make you feel energetic and invigorated. While getting into the habit of working out, always start small. You should spend at least ten minutes warming up and stretching your muscles before you begin. Try building up your stamina by jogging and brisk walking before you take on heavy equipment. 


You can also look into cardio, CrossFit, yoga, Pilates, and aerobics. There are also military-style workouts available online if you want something challenging. The CDC recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of intense to moderate-level exercise every week; therefore, try sticking to the recommended level.


Final Thoughts 

Returning home after serving in the military can leave behind many scars. This is why you need to find your momentum when you get back home again. As a veteran, you may deal with many health issues that need to be examined. For this reason, you should visit a doctor and get a complete health evaluation. Likewise, remember to get your mental well-being looked after. If your physical and mental status is in good condition, you'll find it easy to adapt to civilian life. 


Furthermore, work on your diet and choose to consume meals that give you the nutrition you need without jeopardizing your health. Finally, develop a habit of exercising again, as this can help you stay in shape and remain healthy as you get used to life outside the military.


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