Life in the military is difficult as each person pushes their body to the limit through training and in the line of duty. Those on active duty may also be taught to suppress negative or uncomfortable feelings that their bodies may be telling them for the sake of the mission, culture, or to be seen as “strong” in military culture. However, listening to your body is an important skill to learn when transitioning to civilian life. Not only can embracing new skills for listening to your body as a veteran aid in overcoming trauma, PTSD, substance use, and more but it can also inform effective plans for addressing mental and physical healing needs.

The Challenges of Listening to Your Body for Veterans

Listening to your body means being mindful of normal feeling as well as recognizing when these feelings are in some way “off.” For some, this can be physical, with aches and pains informing decisions, while others may feel emotionally different in certain circumstances. However, veterans can have a difficult time acting on what their bodies may be trying to tell them due to their experiences in the armed forces. 

It is common for veterans to learn to push down difficult feelings in the line of duty, especially regarding chronic pains or feelings of anxiety, fear, and doubt, with many veterans making a deliberate attempt to suppress these needs and changes. While the ability to push down feelings of anxiety, panic, depression, and more can be a useful skill while navigating an active warzone to be able to think clearly, it is a different story after a person’s time in service has ended and they are transitioning to civilian life. Challenging the norms of military culture and listening to your body can be paramount for a healthy approach to daily civilian life. 

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Military Sexual Trauma (MST) Among Men

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Recognizing When Your Body May Be Talking To You

Listening to your body can be complicated. For many, the body can provide simple signs that indicate when a person is hungry or tired. However, the body can also be the first sign of other, more complicated challenges. Noticing changes in a veteran’s body can empower veterans to enact other coping strategies effectively. Some of these signs may include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Inconsistent or changed breathing patterns
  • Increased muscle tension
  • Exhaustion
  • Difficulty concentrating

Feeling fatigued after certain actions or interacting with specific people can also be important information. Even as veterans become adept at noticing personal changes, there can still be challenges when it comes to having a plan to act on the recognition of these signs. Working with Hawaii Island Recovery’s dedicated, trauma-informed professionals is instrumental in developing the skills for not only listening to your body but also acting on the needs it indicates. 

Embracing Skills for Listening to Your Body

Learning to listen to what the body has to say is an important skill and can empower veterans to better understand their own needs and develop the most personalized strategies to overcome trauma, PTSD, stress, and mental health disorders following their time in service. It can be a major shift in mentality for veterans who have been taught to ignore their bodies’ inherent responses but also an important skill to begin a comprehensive healing process, or explore effective self-care options for a more fulfilling civilian life. 

Each veteran will have their own best strategies. Working with veteran peers and the professionals at Hawaii Island Recovery can empower each veteran to find the strategies to best address what their bodies may be telling them.

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Military sexual trauma is incredibly difficult to address, and many veterans have difficulty not only addressing it in their own lives but also in overcoming its impact on their personal relationships. For more information on our treatment centers in Hawaii, call us at (866) 390-5070.

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Practicing Meditation and Yoga

Engaging in guided meditation and yoga sessions at Hawaii Island Recovery can help veterans feel connected to their bodies, feeling not just how their bodies move but also providing an opportunity to clear their minds and embrace physical, emotional, and spiritual calm. During these sessions, veterans will further explore effective mindfulness strategies to use in daily life. Some may find that they are focused on chronic pains that may serve as reminders of past traumatic experiences while others may recognize muscle tension or an inability to truly relax their muscles. 

Meanwhile, using meditation to promote mindfulness and document and discuss how the body reacts to thoughts and situations can be an important first step to creating a more personalized approach to rehab in Hawaii. 

Staying Active

Continued engagement in healthy physical activity outside of training in the line of duty can be a great way to foster a healthy mind-body connection. For some, sports can be a great way to continue positively engaging in physical activity, while others may want to take walks, jogs, or nature hikes. 

Likewise, combining these physical activities with spiritual outlets such as walking along the beach or engaging in nature-based experiential therapies can further this understanding of a person’s own body, and can help veterans identify changes in feelings, stresses, and more. 

Journaling Experiences

Even making a note of when a person feels tense, a headache, fatigued, restless, or when their heart rate increases can be an important piece of information. By journaling when such bodily changes manifest, each veteran can work to explore the context around these experiences, what they may indicate, and recognize potential patterns to better understand the stresses and emotional challenges that each veteran faces in their journey. 

Listening to your body is an important skill to develop, and can be instrumental in overcoming a myriad of challenges. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we understand the importance of being able to tend to personal needs, and we seek to empower veterans and their families to be the catalyst of their own change. Through our proven and effective approach to rehab in Hawaii, we blend proven strategies and therapies with a personal approach to individualized care for a holistic healing journey. From individual and group therapy that addresses mental and emotional healing to tending to spiritual and social needs, we can empower you to take change into your own hands. Call us for more information at (866) 390-5070.