Veterans transitioning from active military life to civilian life are met with many unique challenges. As a result of uncertainty, stress, trauma, anxiety, depression, and more, it can be difficult for veterans to establish a healthy and fulfilling civilian life. Navigating changes in culture, environment, perspective, and more can be exceptionally challenging. Isolation, in particular, can be one of the most difficult aspects for veterans to overcome.
Addiction, trauma, and mental health disorders among the veteran population can all be further exacerbated and inform intense feelings of isolation. Often, professional treatment is required to challenge isolation and embrace new strategies while attempting to develop a healthy civilian lifestyle.
The Prevalence of Isolation Among Veterans
Connecting with others on a personal level will always come with nuance and challenges. Further, people from differing communities will interact with others in varying ways. For veterans, connecting to communities in civilian life can be exceptionally challenging, even if such communities preach acceptance and openness.
The unique trauma veterans experience in the line of duty, the vastly different military culture, and more can all make it difficult to connect with others without a sense of shared experience to draw from. Even the most welcoming communities can still have barriers in place for veterans, making it difficult for them to connect with others, feel heard, or be open to discussing their unique life experiences.
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Veterans may also feel new barriers between themselves and their own families. It is common for veterans to experience changes to their personalities due to their experiences on duty. Addressing these changes, and the changes that happened at home in their absence, are all difficult to navigate.
Veterans may feel disconnected from their families, spouse, children, and any other personal relationships. While experiencing these familial challenges is common for veterans transitioning to civilian life, they are not easy to overcome. Working with families during treatment may be necessary to overcome feelings of isolation and create a healthy home atmosphere.
The Dangers of Isolationist Tendencies
The feeling of isolation or loneliness can all have profound effects on the mental and physical health of veterans. For many, feelings of isolation can come coupled with intense anxiety, depression, anger, and more. Others may feel the persistent effects of trauma that make it difficult to connect with others. Additionally, the use of addictive substances like drugs and alcohol among veterans is incredibly common and can create destructive, cyclic challenges for veterans transitioning to civilian life.
The use of addictive substances themselves can also be an isolating experience itself, further putting emotional distance between veterans and their loved ones and communities. Their use can even erect physical barriers as veterans shut off from social interactions, avoid familial gatherings, and more.
Some of the other effects of isolation among veterans include:
- Difficulty regulating diet
- Compromised sleep schedules
- Increased stress
- Compromised feelings of self-worth or confidence
- Difficulty focusing
- Increased anxiety, panic, or paranoia
- Altered perception of reality
- Increased substance use
- Deterioration of relationships
Feelings of isolation are often coupled with a number of other challenges veterans must overcome for a healthy civilian life. However, understand that there are strategies available for veterans to challenge and overcome feelings of isolation and other emotions that may accompany it.
There are many strategies for overcoming isolation and its detrimental effects. While each strategy will work differently for each veteran, professional treatment programs in Hawaii and group therapy efforts can create new and evolving opportunities to overcome these feelings.
Isolation can compromise regular physical activity. Making an effort to get the body moving can be instrumental in challenging the effects of isolation. Going for a morning walk or run, hiking, walking along the beach, or even having an at-home exercise routine can all be essential for getting the body moving. Not only can this help improve physical health, but staying active can also open an individual up to new communities or groups dedicated to similar physical health outlets.
Utilize Daily Communication Efforts
Communication is the cornerstone of all interpersonal relationships. Dedicated daily efforts to communicate with family and loved ones are necessary to overcome innate isolationist tendencies. Making a phone call a day to a family member, sending regular emails, or even having a dedicated time each evening to get together with a spouse can all further nurture these important relationships while overcoming feelings of isolation.
Find a New Community
Exploring new, dedicated communities can be instrumental in healing. Engaging in a new hobby and finding others interested in similar outlets can be valuable for exploring a healthier civilian lifestyle. For some, communities centered around hobbies can provide opportunities to meet new people and fulfill social needs while exploring personal interests. Others may benefit from dedicated veteran treatment programs in Hawaii to directly connect with peers overcoming similar challenges. Digital mediums can also help introduce veterans to online peers and interest groups to normalize the idea of exploring personal needs and hobbies.
Animals can be amazing companions. A relationship with these animals can provide unconditional love and friendship. However, while adopting a pet, such as a dog, can be instrumental in overcoming feelings of isolation, it can also be dangerous. Ensuring that an individual is actively addressing other concerns, such as the use of addictive substances or feelings of panic or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is necessary to ensure that each veteran will be able to adequately care for these companions.
Feelings of isolation can be incredibly detrimental for veterans navigating their transition to civilian life. If you or your veteran loved one is navigating this change and feeling the crippling effects of isolation, Hawaii Island Recovery can help you today. We offer extensive, personalized treatment programs for veterans to challenge the effects of isolation, all while providing treatment for trauma, spiritual healing, and effective drug and alcohol rehab in Hawaii. Our treatment centers in Hawaii are equipped with trained professionals and a community of like-minded peers, all dedicated to personal, social, and spiritual healing. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, or to speak to a caring staff member about your needs, call (866) 390-5070.