"In every thing there is a season," and this season is coming with a lot of panic. From panic-buying toilet paper to deleting everything from our calendars for the next few weeks, many military spouses may find themselves in an unknown place.
Most of the time, we're pretty calm and prepared people. We have a "bring it on" attitude, and we are pretty unflappable. Now, with current events, it's hard to cling to our "we've got this" attitude when it seems no one else is even trying.
But we can do this. We have to do this. We will do this.
Here's the trick: We do not have to do it alone.
Figuratively, of course. Some of this we will literally be doing it alone. Because our service members will be ... at work! Yup, we know. We know you've got to homeschool, cook from the pantry, keep the laundry going and work from home -- all while trying not to freak out your kids.
So, no, you're not OK. And that's OK. Here are resources to help you out during, and after, this time of crazy.
1. Military OneSource. Yup, they're still there, and they're still available for you. The Military OneSource call center is open 24/7, and they are ready to talk to everyone who is eligible for services. They help with information regarding stress over education, PCS, mental health, physical health and parenting, and can connect you with the right program or resource. The free counseling services are also offered over chat or the phone, so you don’t need to leave your house to get support.
2. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Open 24/7 to provide free, confidential crisis information via the nearest crisis center. You can also chat with them online. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline service can benefit youth, adults, veterans, and disaster survivors, among others. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En Español 1-888-628-9454
3. Crisis Text Line. Texting is much more common than calling among certain age groups, so keep this Crisis Text Line option handy -- especially for the younger ones in your families or units. The text line is open 24/7 and can help with any crisis, connecting the texter with a counselor who can help provide both information and support.
4. Chaplains and Religious Services. We know some chapels are closing, but that doesn't mean the chaplains stopped working. Ask your service member for the on-call number and have a conversation via phone.
Let's also talk about apps that may help with your mental health. Going without seeing your friends is hard, as your children may be telling you. And while you may not be in crisis, your mental health is a concern with social distancing and quarantines.
1. Marco Polo. Social distancing is hard! Keeping in touch with your friends, however, is easy. Marco Polo is a great video messaging tool that allows you to record and send a video message to anyone with a cellphone. It works overseas, too! Set up a daily chat with your friends and encourage your kids to do so, as well (Free; iOS and Android)
2. MindShift. Helps teens and young adults realize how changing their thoughts can aid in managing their anxiety. It's an excellent resource for parents to assist their teens and young adults, while not being in the middle of the issues. (Free; iOS and Android)
3. Happify. This mood training program helps keep, or get, you in a good mood. It has activities, gratitude prompts and games to train your brain to overcome negative thoughts. (Free; iOS and Android)
4. Headspace. While not free, this app offers so much that it may just be worth it. (In the past, Blue Star Families had a free code, so keep your eyes out for that!) To help make meditation easier, the app also gives you access to tools to help with anxiety, stress, focus and sleep. ($12.99/Month or $9.99/Year for students; iOS and Android). They do offer a free trial.
Make sure you take care of yourself during this time. Gather your resources, find the facts and make the best decisions for your family. But also make sure you also take care of your mental health. Whether that means talking to a counselor online or having a virtual coffee date with your bestie, take the time to do it.
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--Rebecca Alwine can be reached at email@example.com.