Military Spouse Survival Tip: Manage Your Energy
Before you begin reading this article, take a look at the image with my word cloud brainstorming list that defines what energy means to me. What will you add to the list? Where does your energy come from? Who boosts your energy? Why is managing your energy important?
Merriam-Webster defines energy as the “ability to be active: the physical or mental strength that allows you to do things.” Energy management is about taking care of your mind and body.
As a military spouse you may be facing a move, a deployment, or adding college to your schedule. The household responsibilities fall on your shoulders, as does managing schedules or possibly your own career. The good news is that you can learn how to accomplish it all by managing your energy. When your energy is managed, you will have the stamina to complete your tasks and meet your goals. In the 2013 Urologic Nursing article “Life as a Military Spouse,” Eubanks points out that for military spouses “courage is needed to handle the demands of their lifestyle.”
The five strategies below can help you find your courage and boost your energy!
Document your goals and priorities.
Do they align? If so, use both as your internal compass. Let them guide you in making your decisions regarding where you spend your time and energy (Grein, 2010). If not, you need to reevaluate your priorities so that they align with your goals and then learn to say, “No”.
Example: Your goal is to lose 15 pounds so you have more physical energy and can sleep better. If your priorities do not include items such as planning a healthy menu, eliminating sugars and adding more exercise to your weekly schedule then your priorities do not match your goal.
Begin with a monthly calendar and write down all of your major activities. Then create a weekly plan, carving out time to work toward your goals. Last, develop a daily plan that includes specific items. Knowing your schedule allows you to get your tasks accomplished and include time for yourself. Try this for a month and see how you feel (Thompson, 2006).
Example: Your monthly calendar includes the activities you must do such as doctor appointments, meetings, school activities, etc.. Your weekly schedule gets more specific such as Monday-Friday household chores, errands, practice, schoolwork and exercise. Then your daily schedule would be family time 6-8 a.m., work 8-2 p.m. vacuum/dust 2-3, homework 3-4, practice 5-6, dinner and bath for kids 6-9, relax with spouse 9-10.
Take daily time for yourself.
This may be the most difficult strategy. As a military spouse you may be used to giving to others and therefore be neglecting yourself. Remember, energy is about stamina and to have stamina you have to fuel your soul. It is important to take the time to exercise, socialize, scrap book, play a sport, nap, meditate, pray, cook, or participate in any activity that brings you joy. This is your time to recharge!
Surround yourself with people that boost your energy.
Knowing who boosts and who zaps your energy is important. Think about the people in your life and ask yourself, “Who brings me joy?” Spend more time with those people. If you are feeling isolated due to a new move, find a military spouse support group to help you through the transition (Eubanks 2013). Reach out to those that have similar interests and thoughts.
Have an open mind.
Be flexible, learn to adapt, and know where you can go to gain courage (Eubanks, 2013). As a military spouse, learning how to deal with adversity is an essential part of managing your energy. Prepare to be flexible!
Oprah Winfrey said, “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” (10 Quotes to Boost Your Energy, n.d, p.6). Use your internal compass as a guide to align your activities with your priorities, and your priorities with your goals. Now, go out and write your definition of energy. How will you maximize your energy today?
About the Author
Jackie Nicholas Hott received her Bachelor’s degree in Education/Communication from Mary Baldwin College in 1989 and a Master’s degree in Education from Virginia Tech in 1993 focusing on College Student Personnel with a strong interest in Women’s Studies. Jackie is an instructor with American Military University. She teaches the Foundations of Learning course. Before coming to AMU, she taught elementary school, was the director for a nonprofit and worked at Shenandoah University in student affairs. Jackie boosts her energy by creating a calendar, making to do lists, exercising, and spending time with family.