It’s hard to stay positive with all that life throws at you, let alone what the Army throws at you. In general I try to not let moments get me down, like a bad day at work, an assignment gone wrong, or time apart from loved ones, but it’s hard. There are always days or weeks that you have the blues. So just what do I do to stay as positive as I can?
1. Focus on the good stuff. In the last 6 months some of my very good friends have PCS’d (moved, see the glossary for more) away from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM aka where we are stationed), and in the coming months a few more are leaving. And it sucks. There is really no other way to say it. But these are friendships that will last despite the distance, I just know it. We stay in touch in various ways (email, Facebook, etc), I have plans to visit one that’s not going too far way and another when I’m nearby for a wedding, and that makes me happy. Will we have the same random shopping trips anymore? No. Can we have a dinner party? No. But when we are nearby again those things will happen. And I know I can count on them for advice and support when I need it. So focusing on that helps me, and remembering the great times we had together here.
2. Focus on the finish line. When James is gone for a week or a month or 9 months, it’s difficult. I get into terrible routines, and get sad that he’s gone. I don’t have my best friend around to joke with, watch TV, cook with, etc. So this I try to focus on the end. For instance, I will look at the calendar and realize how quickly a week has gone by, which means that there is one less week to go! Sometimes there is little communication during these times and I will say, hey it’s been 5 days, 10 to go! Or whatever it may be. It puts things in perspective and is an exciting day to look forward to.
3. Don’t stress the small stuff. It’s really easy to get caught up in the “when are we moving?” “will you hear about the new position soon?” “what do you mean you don’t know the exact dates?” These are sooooo easy to worry about but eventually you get the answer. I’ve learned to book flights that I can change (my favorite is Southwest since they don’t charge extra when you need to cancel, you can just apply the rate you paid to other dates) and to just get used to the unknown. Am I used to it completely? No. But I try not to worry about the things that are out of my control. James is good at keeping me in the loop, and I’m really good at asking questions a lot. So once I hear something might happen, I don’t hold my breath. I wait until it’s finalized. In the meantime I’ll prep a little, but it’s not worth the energy if it might not happen.
4. Find someone to talk it out with. For me I need to stay busy when James is gone, but I also depend on friends and family to vent to, especially when I’m not feeling the best. With winter going on forever it’s also easy to get the Winter Blues. A few of my friends and co-workers, and myself, have felt the blues a bit. This article form Military Spouse Magazine has some awesome tips and insight into seasonal depression (which happens a lot here in Washington).
How do you stay positive? Especially when life throws you a curveball or refuses to move from the status quo?