Have you ever noticed that when things are crazy and our military life is filled with challenges that everything becomes louder? Our spouse leaves for a training or deployment, and our first instinct is to fill the void with as much activity (a.k.a chaos) as possible so we don’t have to deal with the emptiness they left behind. I know that’s how it is for me and many other military spouses, especially in that first week. I have this mindset that if I fill the emptiness with lots of activity, then somehow I won’t notice that my soldier is gone.
It happens almost without thinking. I’m on the phone more, watching TV more, the music is louder, and I find myself speaking in an outdoor voice just to drown out the quiet. Everything is kicked up a notch, and I surround myself with busy-ness because, somewhere in my mind, I think it will help fill the void his absence has left.
And then, as if by magic, our life is in a twirl. A vortex appears out of nowhere, and I am sucked into a crazy, unable to function, twirl. My coping skills are thrown by the wayside, I forget to tend to my basic needs, and soon the entire household is spinning out of control. It seems as if all of a sudden the world turns on its axis and starts to close in on me, demanding more.
Quickly, my mindset shifts and life becomes unfair. My thoughts begin to focus on the challenges and issues, I quit seeing the good in people, and more than likely, I find that I have an increased need to be understood and heard. I even begin to resent my role as a military spouse and hate the chaos that comes with this life. Sound familiar?
So what can we do when our military life is a chaotic mess and we are feeling the magnetic pull of the vortex?
We can get quiet.
The best way to begin calming the chaos and taming the vortex is to decrease the volume and increase the amount of quiet in your day. Why is this strategy so important? Because it’s in the quiet that we find the solutions to how we can deal with whatever is going on. It’s in the quiet that we find the answers and are able to catch our breath again. And in the quiet, we reconnect with ourselves. (For more tips on how to be happy in your military life read Judy’s book Right Side Up here).
Those of you with little ones are probably sitting there laughing at me right now, rolling your eyes and thinking I’ve lost it. But trust me, it is possible to find silence in a life filled with pandemonium, no matter how hard your children may be working against you. Finding quiet in a chaotic and busy world isn’t easy, but with a bit of practice you will see that no matter where you are, who you are with, or how insane the environment is, you have the ability to check out and get quiet even if it’s only for a couple of seconds.
Beth Beulow, The Introvert Entrepreneur tells us that “when we’re in a highly stimulating, bustling environment, it can be challenging to maintain a sense of inner calm. Introverts are especially sensitive to this; we can feel our energy being pulled right out of our bodies by all of the activity around us.”
Now, I’m not an introvert by nature, however, when military life gets insane or I’m at an FRG meeting days before deployment, I can quickly relate to what she is getting at. It is at those times that I use her Get Quiet Techniques to find calm anywhere and everywhere.
Take a cue from your dog and practice calming behaviors. Dogs have certain things they do to calm themselves down when things get stressful. Best done in the bathroom or in a space away from the group so they don’t think you have lost your mind: yawn, shake your head and hands, and do a good full body stretch (on your tippy toes, hands in the air). Doing this simple exercise helps to release some anxiety and reconnect you to your body, helping you feel grounded and centered instantly.
Adopt the attitude of an observer. The act of observing rather than interacting can help you detach a bit from the activity and chaos going on all around you. By releasing yourself from the expectation that you have to do anything (for instance, talk to someone, help in the kitchen, be especially witty or charming), you give yourself a little breathing room. By watching the group interaction, you can gather information and choose more thoughtfully where it makes sense for you to step in and move from observer to participant.
This simple attitude shift gives me at least the illusion of control, which contributes greatly to my ability to remain calm.
~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com