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3 Tips for Handling Predeployment Stress

Household Bushatz is in a predeployment holding pattern. If you’re gearing up for deployment (or have recently done so) you know what I’m talking about. It’s like climbing that hill on the roller coaster. It’s going up, up, up and you are feeling more and more anxious. When will this hill be over?! Why did I get on this military ride? I hate roller coasters! Why can't everyone just leave me alone and let me eat my funnel cake in peace?

And now, though you would never say it directly to your spouse’s face because he might misunderstand, you really just wish he would hurry up and leave already so that the whole thing would be over with pronto, the car would get to the top of the hill, and you can start the crazy ride.

Instead the hill feels like it won’t end. You still have weeks – precious, short, long, never ending, to soon coming to a close weeks – left with your spouse. You decline all invitations to hang out with your friends, because you don’t want to waste any of the time you could be spending with your Honey. You said “no” to that important work trip because you knew it was just a little too close to the departure date, and now you’re mad that you did that, but at the same time you’re happy. Because predeployment feelings are just that confusing]. You spend all of your moments together trying to make sure you are spending every moment the best way you can -- but it’s impossible to savor every moment when all you are focused on is an AAR of the savoring.

Predeployment is fun, huh?

I told someone yesterday one of the reasons that I love SpouseBuzz is because even in my craziest military moments I can open up the site, read a post or the comments after it, and feel like I’m not alone. I know someone out there is nodding at this post in “oh I know how that feels” solidarity right now. And I thank you.

This isn’t my first ride on this crazy predeployment roller coaster and it probably won’t be my last. That doesn't mean it isn't hard. Hopefully, it does mean that I’ve learned from my mistakes and have picked-up some tools for dealing with this stuff along the way.

But even with your bag full of healthy coping mechanisms, sometimes you just need a good reminder on how to deal with this stuff. And because I need to remind myself today, too, here are three tips for handling predeployment.

1. Know that you’re not the only one. The first time “I wish he would just leave” crossed my mind I was shocked and appalled. How could I think that? I was so sad that my husband was leaving – why would I ever want him to leave faster? But then I found out that all of my friends were feeling the same thing. And it made me feel so much better.

Those feelings that predeployment cannot be over fast enough – even though at the same time you wish your spouse would stay stateside forever – are completely normal. The stress of anticipation can be overwhelming. Why wouldn’t you want it to end as fast as possible? If you’re thinking “please leave” today, you are not alone. I’m thinking it, too.

2. Try to revel in the normal. There’s a lot of stress right before a deployment to make the most of every possible second together. The problem with that is doing so creates so much stress to have a good time that it’s impossible to relax and have a good time. Just like taking an exhausted child to Disneyland, and then ordering them to have fun because you can’t stop thinking about how much the tickets cost results in a bawling, zero-fun child, obsessing over making the most of every moment is going to leave you stressed and without enjoyment.

For us, the key to fixing this problem is to focus instead on being purposeful about relaxing, enjoying each other’s company and just being us. We don’t plan any more fun outings or adventures than normal. We don’t take extravagant trips. Instead we plan a few extra, relaxed date nights, clear our schedules for some extra popcorn and movie time at home and make a point of doing all the low key things together that we enjoy.

3. Let other people in. While we do spend extra time together right before a deployment, we don’t do it at the expense of our friends. I still go to my weekly Bible study night. We still attend a party here or there at a friend’s house. It may be tempting to wipe all of these people off your schedules, but those outings and events with other people help let a little air into your relationship. Because while we do our best to not stress over having a good time while we still can, the stress never completely goes away. Keeping up engagements with other people gives us a chance to breathe a little.

 

What tips have you found for dealing with the stress of predeployment? Give a sister a hand and share them, please.

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