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Military Spouse Advocacy Network by Military Spouse Advocacy Network - 4M ago

Life can be so busy. There is always so much to do and multiple things that compete for your time and energy. It can seem like you are constantly being bombarded with requests from others, to-do list, and your own expectations. You may feel so overwhelmed that you don’t know how you will keep up with everything. You feel overwhelmed, distracted, and wonder when you will ever have time to breathe.

There is hope! You don’t have to let stress or exhaustion rule your life.  When left unchecked stress and fatigue can negatively impact your mental and physical well-being. There is hope! Consider these simple steps to renew your mind:

  1. Laugh hard and laugh often. Studies have shown that laughing can have therapeutic benefits.  It helps to increase blood flow and lower your heart rate.
  2. Get your z’s. Most adults do not get the proper amount of sleep, which is between seven to eight hours each night. Getting adequate rest allows your body to handle stress better and improves your overall health.
  3. Unplug from the platforms. Sometimes it seems like our electronic devices vie for more time than we allot for ourselves.  This is valuable time that could be used to meditate or to read an inspirational book.
  4. Learn to say no. It is easy to get caught up in doing things to make other people happy at our own expense. Saying yes to something you really want to say no to, can be very draining and can make you feel resentful. It is o.k. to say no.
  5. Don’t embrace multi-tasking. Multi-tasking can have an adverse impact on your daily productivity. Focus on one thing at a time and you will be surprised how much quicker you can complete the task.
  6. Snuggle up with a good book. Reading can help make you relax because it lets your mind escape for a little while, into the private world of the book you are reading. Research indicates that reading a book you enjoy can help to reduce stress more than 50%.
  7. Meditate for a healthier you. Mediation can help you recharge your mind by increasing your clarity, reducing your blood pressure, and reducing stress hormones in your body.

 


Mental Health and Wellness Advocate

Benita L. Thornhill, MA, LPCA, LCASA is the spouse of a former Naval Surface Warfare Officer. She is the owner of Coastal Carolina Wellness Connection in Jacksonville, NC.  She works with active duty military, veterans and their families.  If you have any questions or need guidance, please email me here.

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Military Spouse Advocacy Network by Military Spouse Advocacy Network - 4M ago

Moving is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. Add to that the seemingly complicated amount of paperwork, communicating with the right departments, moving companies, and your spouse, and moving as a military family can feel downright overwhelming.

Fortunately, the military is aware that a knowledgeable and informed family makes your life much easier! If you are a Navy family, Navy Household Goods is holding a series of webinars to answer any and all of your moving questions. You can read all about what will be covered and how to access the the webinars on their flyer.

Not a Navy family? No worries! Move.mil also has very informative tutorials on their website, which can be found by clicking here!

My advice is to not wait until you’re facing a move to be educated on the topic. You will go into the experience much more at ease, if you take the time to learn all you can now. I’ve been through two permanent change of station (PCS) moves, and I still intend on attending the webinars. There may be something new or improved that I don’t know! he military does love switching things up on us! Am I right?

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Military Spouse Advocacy Network by Military Spouse Advocacy Network - 5M ago

Simplify Your Routines

Morning and evenings can be difficult for families. Trying to get multiple people, including yourself to your morning destination can prove challenging. Looking at where you are falling short in time in the morning and adjusting your routine or changing it all together can help to streamline your morning. Prepping lunch right after evening chores and packing backpacks at night can help to save tons of time in the morning. Likewise, looking at where you are thin on time in the evening and tweaking things like doing homework, or getting the children to bed ½ hour earlier to accommodate for bedtime stories, the preverbal glass of water, and the monster in the closet. Remember it is the small consistent changes that win the race.

Eat Healthier

Often we equate eating healthy to being on a diet where we feel starved. This is far from the truth. Eating healthier can be as simple as choosing the right foods that provide your body the nutrients that it needs. Substituting unhealthy food  for healthier food is as simple as deciding to have a baked potato with dinner instead of fried fries, or satisfying your taste for sugar with fruit.

Get Moving

Want more energy? Get moving.  Physical activity increases your heart rate and gets your blood flowing, which in return increases endorphins in your body. Exercise increases the amount of energy you have and also increases your feel good hormones, called endorphins.  Moderate to light weight exercise, such as a brisk walk will get you moving easily, and will help your heart and increase your emotional well-being overall.

Unplug

Have you ever tracked how much time you spend on your phone, tablet, or computer? It can really be a thief a time if we are not careful. An intention of jumping on social media for 15 minutes can turn into 1 ½ hours.  It can also rob you of those beautiful daily moments of connecting with your family. Take time to unplug from your electronics and plug into yourself and your family.

Invest In Yourself

There always seems like there is so much to do. It is very easy to put yourself in last place. Unfortunately, this can be detrimental to your physical and mental health. Show yourself some love by learning a new skill, developing yourself professionally, or simply carving out 30 minutes for yourself in the morning and in the evenings to start and end your day on a positive note.

Mental Health and Wellness Advocate

Benita L. Thornhill, MA, LPCA, LCASA is the spouse of a former Naval Surface Warfare Officer. She is the owner of Coastal Carolina Wellness Connection in Jacksonville, NC.  She works with active duty military, veterans and their families.  If you have any questions or need guidance, please email me here.

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Military Spouse Advocacy Network by Military Spouse Advocacy Network - 5M ago

With a new year comes new goals, new diets, and new aspirations. Many people choose this time of year to set a plan towards bettering themselves and their lives. Many of these people have complete control over making these plans a reality, and can achieve it by simply following steps 1, 2, and 3. The military family does not get to experience this privilege. We have little control over where we live, how long we live there for, or the quality and accessibility of civilian careers and education. However, even though we may not have control over these components, there is one thing we do have control over, ourselves, and our attitude.

It happens to the best of us. Negative Nancy swoops into our minds and we wallow and moan, sometimes out loud, sometimes only to ourselves, about how we hate this, or hate that, or this is unfair, or that is unfair. It can go on and on and become quite the spectacle. Sometimes this wallowing is greatly needed. I am always an advocate for this occasional behavior and say complaining is welcome and encouraged. But, there is a line when this complaining is no longer helpful. You have to know where that line is and be careful not to cross it.

So what do you do when you’re faced with the military challenge of a journey you did not choose, and you’re not especially excited about facing? Well, you have a few options:

  1. Reflect– Take some time and reflect on your personal goals and what you would like to achieve during this time. Set realistic expectations and make a real plan about how you can achieve it. This may include an alternative route than what you originally anticipated. It may be longer and harder, but you WILL be stronger and more resilient because of it in the end.
  2. Be Positive– Speak positive affirmations out into the universe. You are strong. You are capable. You will do XYZ. Nothing will get in your way. You will overcome.
  3. Plan– It is not enough to say, “I want to do this” or “I will be better”. You NEED to make a plan. Write it down. You want to be healthier? I will meal plan on Friday. I will grocery shop on Saturday. I will food prep on Sunday. Write out your  plans. Follow them. Make a sticker chart if you have to. Adults are just big kids who like stickers too!
  4. Reward Yourself– Did you go a whole week without feeling sorry for yourself? Did you make a new friend this week? Did you apply for that job or school? Treat yourself!

The military lifestyle likes to throw new things at you all year long. This is a never-ending journey. Sometimes it’s a thrill when it is happening. Sometimes it feels like it’s never going to end. Sometimes it’s a “laugh later” kind of experience, and sometimes it’s a “if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry” kind of thing. Whichever moment you’re currently in, know that you are not alone. Know that even though you may not have chosen all of the challenges that come with it, you do have the choice on how you face it. Choose to be strong. Choose to be a MilSpouse.


Filed under: New Spouse
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Attitude is everything, but it is also a choice.  Often we start out a new job with a positive attitude and then, over time, become disenchanted or get into a rut where we focus on the negative.  This can be a challenge, especially when the workplace is full of negative personalities.

Recently, I made a choice to change my attitude and run a little experiment.  My week has changed by focusing on the positive with magnificent Monday, Terrific Tuesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Thankful Thursday, and Fantastic Friday.  Just this short change of attitude has made my days much more positive.  

My colleagues laugh, but they have joined in, adding superlatives for each day so we now have marvelous, magnificent; totally terrific, wacky wonderful; thriving thoughtful; and finally fantastic and fun. The discussion brings laughter, but also has changed some of the negativity in the workplace.  Since we work for an Army organization, I remind people we should be building positivity, one of the goals of the resilience program.  Most services have this program to build resilience in families and service members (check with your unit or family center to find out more).

So, what are the results of my little change of focus? I am now much happier to go into the office and look forward to each day, even the ones I know will be full of craziness.  Just my mindset change has made a world of a difference.  My colleagues and I joke more.  My boss has joined in with his own suggestions, not always positive (like Terrible Tuesday , which has also helped the team joke back.  The office environment has become much more positive.  One of the biggest changes with my sharing a positive attitude, is that two extremely negative personalities have much less negative things to share.


Filed under: Uncategorized
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Getting involved in extracurricular activities can seem a bit odd, especially if you are an older student. So why should you join in and what types of activities are important? Studies show that students who are more involved in activities outside of the classroom, have higher GPA’s and are more likely to graduate.  For older students, the challenge is in what types of activities will fit their specific lifestyles.

Academic and Professional Organizations

I put this first, as I feel it is the most important thing you can do for your career.  These organizations provide excellent opportunities to better understand your profession and to connect with others in your field. Many professional organizations will have academic chapters. For example, the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) has chapters at many college campuses. These chapter often include connecting student to mentors who are working in the field.These are often hosted by the academic department.

Athletics

This may seem like an odd inclusion, but I am not just talking about being a member of the football or basketball team.  I am also talking about intramural sports, and even fitness classes or events at athletic facilities.  Many schools have these activities which can provide you with a positive outlet outside of school,  and allows you to get to know others who enjoy the same activities.

Multicultural Activities

Athletics are not for everyone.  Multicultural activities, however,  are a great way  to get to know other cultures, as well as to share your own cultural background and experiences.  

Volunteer and Service Related Organizations

Volunteering and serving the community provide an opportunity to develop new skills and explore your local community in a unique way.  If there is a cause you support, there is probably an organization to connect to.  Follow your passion and make a difference in your community.

Veteran Groups

Many military spouses are veterans, and some veteran groups on campus welcome military spouses as well. Veteran groups can provide you a way to feel connected to the military community while you are attending school.  They can provide you with a group of people who understand the military lifestyle, and provide great support overall.

Student Government

Consider getting involved in your student government.  This can provide opportunities  to expand your leadership skills and make a difference.  You could also represent non-traditional students and provide a unique perspective as a military spouse.

There are numerous other activities to include drama, music, art, and just about anything else you can imagine.  Explore the activities your school has to offer and get involved.  Become connected and committed to your school and classmates.  These experiences can make a difference in your overall college experience.  They can provide you with opportunities to help you succeed in the future by providing experience to add to your resume and networking opportunities.


Filed under: Education
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It is that time of the year again, when many people reflect over the past year and set goals for the new year. Unfortunately, only a few people who set goals at the beginning of the year actually follow through with them. Believe it or not, many people stop working towards their goals in less than one month after setting them. Instead of looking at why people don’t stick to their goals, let’s look at how you can CRUSH your goals this year.

  1. Significance Makes It Stick If you want to accomplish your goals, you have to attach meaning to them. It can be tempting to replicate the goal of someone who is successful and hope to receive the same results. However, if your reason for setting a goal isn’t something you feel passionate about or driven to do, it will be difficult to invest your time, energy, or money into achieving it. When it comes to setting goals, don’t worry about the Smith’s, focus on your passion
  2. If You Want It, Put a Pen to It Studies show that individuals who put their goals down in writing have a better chance of achieving them. Writing things down helps you to get really clear on what you want and own what you are trying to achieve. When you write your goals down it is like making a commitment to yourself.
  3. Create a Vision Board They are fairly inexpensive and fun to make. Take the goals that you have written down for yourself, find pictures that represent the goals, dab on a little glue, and place the pictures in a way that is meaningful to you on a board of your choice. Include pictures that give meaning to your goals, and words that inspire you. Place your vision board in a place where you can see it daily.
  4. Establish a Deadline Establishing deadlines helps to give you a timeframe to achieve your goals. Not giving yourself a deadline can decrease the sense of urgency in meeting your goal. This can result in procrastination, which in the end, can result in the goal not being met at all. Create an overall deadline for your goal, but be sure to implement daily goals and benchmarks to give you a sense of success and to keep you motivated.
  5. Break Large Goals Into Smaller Goals It can be very overwhelming thinking about the end result of a large goal. In fact, it can be so discouraging that it causes many people to abandon their goals prematurely. Breaking your large goals down into small everyday action plans will lessen your feelings of anxiety and help you to stay focused on meeting your goals daily.
  6. Celebrate the Small Victories Do you want to increase your motivation? When you break your goals down into bite size action plans, pencil in benchmarks where you will celebrate your successes. When you celebrate reaching your benchmark, your brain will release dopamine, which will in turn will make you want to repeat what you did so you can feel good again.

Mental Health and Wellness Advocate

Benita L. Thornhill, MA, LPCA is the spouse of a former Naval Surface Warfare Officer. She is the owner of Coastal Carolina Wellness Connection in Jacksonville, NC.  She works with active duty military, veterans and their families.  If you have any questions or need guidance, please email me here


Filed under: #MentalHealth, Mental Health & Wellness, New Year Resolution, Uncategorized
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Military Spouse Advocacy Network by Military Spouse Advocacy Network - 6M ago

In October I asked our milspouse community the one question we are all dying to know:

What is the one piece of advice you wish you could give yourself when you were a new milspouse?

We received so many wonderful contributions on the Facebook post, I had to share some of the great feedback in a blog post, just in case you missed it.

  • “Stop believing the hype that spouses’ clubs are full of drama llamas and not worth your time. Allow the keyboard warriors to loathe alone. . . Your greatest resource will be making the conscious decision to make your situation better rather than remaining bitter.”
  • “Continue to develop your own self and identity; through work, education, volunteering, and friendships so that you flourish alongside your spouse.”
  • “1. You can do anything for an hour. So try new things, go to the coffee, a spouse social, or a town hall.
  • 2. Introduce yourself. Don’t just sit there quietly waiting for the person next to you to take the lead.
  • 3. Volunteer – Network – take the training classes. This is where you’ll find your friends, a sense of purpose, and a deeper understanding of this lifestyle.”
  • “Embrace it all – really all of it! Look at it like an adventure! There are some uphill paths and some downhill paths. On the way up dig in and push through- on the way down throw your hand in the air and enjoy the ride!”
  • “This too shall PCS… =)”

These are just some of the great tips that other milspouses so generously opened up with, and shared. If you want to read more, be sure to like our Facebook page here. Share your own advice in the comments below!


Filed under: New Spouse
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There is a lot of talk about the four, and sometimes five different generations in the workplace.  We are in a unique time, as this is the first time we have had so many generations in the workplace at the same  time.  Communication preferences are unique to each person and generation. One thing to remember as we maneuver in the workplace is the ways in which each generation prefers to send and receive information.  Understanding this can help us better connect to our colleagues and make the work environment more pleasant.

Traditionalists (pre-1946)

Traditionalists tend to have a very formal method of communication.  Formal memos are an example of what they typically prefer.  When communicating with a traditionalist, be sure to show them you value their position and experience.  They have valuable experience you can learn from.

Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964)

Boomers want to meet face-to-face.  This is the generation that is focused on quality.  They want to be needed, just as we all do.  For them, relationships in the workplace are important. Take the time to get to know them by asking them for their advice or about their experience.

Generation X (1965 – 1976)

Gen Xers want immediate and direct communication, think texting or email.  They want to know the “why,” and will challenge others to better understand.  Be sure to help them understand the “why” behind how things are done, rather than respond “it’s the way we’ve always done it.”  Take the time to listen to their ideas and do not be offended when they ask questions

Millennials or Generation Y (1977 – 1997)

Millennials prefer text messaging and utilize social media.  They want the instantaneous feedback provided by these methods. Just because they are texting at a meeting does not mean they are not paying attention, they may be gathering additional information or getting the answer. They are technology savvy and want to make work efficient. Use their skills to find new ways to utilize technology.

Generation Z or the iGeneration (after 1997)

The iGeneration is always connected.  Their smartphones do not leave their side and they wear communication devices. However, they also recognize how easy it is for information to be misconstrued so they also want to face-to-face as well. The iGeneration knows how to utilize technology. They are just starting to enter the workforce, so be patient and be willing to mentor.

I have focused on generalizations for the different generations, but everyone is different. The key to dealing with your colleagues is to get to know them and understand their communication style. Be sure others understand your style as well. By choosing to customize your approach to your various colleagues, you can better connect and be more effective in your communication. With people working longer now to accommodate their families financially, we will continue to have four (or more) generations in the workplace now, and continuing into the future.  


Filed under: Career&Employment, Employment & Career
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5 Reasons to Join a Professional Organization

Professional organizations, every profession seems to have one. It is easy to dismiss, especially when your time is limited, but they can be a great value to growing your…..  Many organizations have special student chapters at different universities, often sponsored by the local chapter.  They question is why should you invest your time in joining a professional organization? Here are the  top 5 reasons:

Provide an Understanding of Your Field

Professional organizations have people at a variety of levels, from entry level to executive affiliates. A great way to get a better understanding in  your field, to include different aspects and levels, is to get to know those who are currently working in your profession.

Provide Educational (or Scholarship) Opportunities.

Many professional organizations have educational opportunities.  Some are free and some have a cost associated (always ask for a student or military spouse discount).  In addition, many organizations offer scholarships.  The educational opportunities are something you can also add to your resume as a way to show your passion for your field.

Keeping Up with the Latest and Greatest.

That is right. Professional organizations can keep you up to date on the latest techniques, terminology, and trainings. Articles, newsletters, and journals published by the organizations can help you keep on top of your field, even if you are not working in it right now.

Find a Mentor.

Many professional organizations have formal mentor programs for students and those new to a field.  Even if they do not have a formal program, professional organizations are a great place to find that mentor that can help you understand your profession and learn how to grow in your field.

Networking!

The number one reason to join a professional organization is to network. Networking allows you to  meet others who share your interests and passions.  This network can provide you insights into a career field, and a leg up to get hired for a position.

Professional organizations offer many opportunities.  Invest some time.  Be sure to ask for student or military spouse discounts.  If you cannot afford to attend, see if you can volunteer in exchange.  Find a helpful list of professional organizations through the Directory of Associations website.


Filed under: Career&Employment, Education, Employment & Career
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