Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Challenges with Transition: Dealing with Transitional Obstacles Can Be a Stressful Learning Experience for All

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Challenges with Transition: Dealing with Transitional Obstacles Can Be a Stressful Learning Experience for All

Article excerpt

Coping with situational life stressors such as relocation, deployment, and separation from family and friends is an important topic to examine for military families. Every year about a third of all military members transfer permanent change station. Military members on average relocate about every two years. Newly recruited lower echelon members move even more frequently than someone who has been in the military for a longer period of time. Among the military branches, the Marines have the shortest span between relocations, while the Air Force has the longest.

Learning how to deal with transitional change can be a very difficult task to complete at times; it can be so hard that it affects how one performs their military service or it can impede relational efficacy with family and friends. Service members sacrifice day in and day out, however, the family also makes concessions. Parents have to be mobile and children, by the nature of the service member's duty, also become peripatetic, placing tremendous stress on the household and on the service member. For instance, when a parental figure is deployed more often than not, many children will take up the responsibility left behind by the absent parent or the trailing parent becomes both parents, pulling double duty--putting tension on the family unit. Amidst this time the service member who is on Deployment Orders, Temporary Duty Under Instruction (Education), or an Individual Augmentee (IA) similarly has some trepidations of leaving the family system behind, but understands that he or she has an obligation to their country and to their family to protect their freedom.

Transition in the military is an arduous and painstaking task that all service members and their kin must face routinely. All these metamorphoses can cause distress or other unpleasant feelings such as anger, alienation, confusion, and discouragement while others may tussle with the impact on one's social life, emotional health, financial stability, and familial integrity. This is why it is imperative to gain some additional tools to cope more effectively as a service member and as a family.

Having a combined experience as a clinical counselor and case manager, I have worked with numerous children, families, and individuals with aforementioned, unpredictable life cycle situations. First and foremost, one needs to recognize that in order to take care of other people's needs, one must first take care of his or her own needs in order to be of any assistance to others. Here are five gadgets from my tool box that I have found to be helpful to people with similar problems.

Tools for Stress Relief

1. Express Feelings

Talk, laugh, and cry. Many people feel better just by talking or expressing their feelings. Calling, emailing or texting a co-worker to let them know what is bothering you may help you feel that you're not alone in dealing with the stress. Talking to family about your perception is another great source of relieving stress. Having someone who can actively listen to your concerns makes many feel wanted and appreciated. I have had so many clients talk the entire session without me speaking a word. They later inform me just being able to express themselves via the ability to communicate fear, disappointment, and laughter reduces or completely alleviates the stress.

2. Relax

Too often people do not take a break to rejuvenate. By that I mean sitting down reading a good book, listening to music, or participating in an activity that one enjoys or hobby that takes the focus away from the problem. This gives the mind an opportunity to rest and calculate concurrently, by natural succession, a possible solution to the event that is causing the stressor. Two healthy ways to relax are simply having a siesta or, even better, taking a nice vacation--which can aid in the mind replenishing itself. Learning some simple relaxation methods such as breathing exercises or guided imagery can be very helpful in dealing with stress. …

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