Self-Discovery, and Coping Strategies for Veterans
by First Lieutenant Moriamo Sulaiman-Ifelodun
“Don’t over-analyze the situation, and be present in the moment. Accept that there is only so much that can be done that is in your control.”
On my journey to self-discovery there are a few strategies that helped me along the way, whether that is coping with the stresses of combat or the trials of life in the “real world.” Below are the things that worked for me, maybe they can help you as well:
#1. Family and Friends (Reach out for Support)
This sounds suuuuper cliché, but if you think about it, friends and family have been there (usually) through the thick and thin of it all our entire lives. So why would going through self-discovery be any different? Reach out to either friends, family, or both for support, depending on who will give you the most realness.
#2. Therapy (See a counselor/group therapy)
There are some free services out there whether you’re a student, in the military, or a civilian and just need a pair of ears to listen. Do not be afraid to take advantage of those, especially if you aren’t able to rely on friends or family; or if you just don’t want them all up in your business. They are FREE (we all love that price), so what are you waiting for? A counselor can give insight from a different perspective, and group therapy sessions can help you create some new friendships and a different support system.
Find a new hobby or rediscover some you once loved. I have always loved art in some form: photography, painting, music, but that was lost over the years. Personally, I rediscovered my creativity and also discovered film making and a new love for the outdoors. If you’re just not sure what you wanna pick back up, take a look below to help you discover something new.
If you’re a Creative, try: paint, write, photography, DIY crafts
If you’re Outdoorsy, try: hike, dive, skydive
If you’re a little (or a lot) Nerdy, try: cosplay, re-enact, video games
If you’re looking for something cultural-esque, try: cook, coloring books, learn a new language
Technically, traveling could be categorized as a hobby, but I find traveling to be a crucial step in self-discovery. I did a lot of semi-solo traveling/exploring new places in Washington and even went to Hawaii, which is the farthest I had been in a long, long time, and it was one of my BEST trips thus far. Take this time to disconnect from electronics and just be. Explore and enjoy your destination. Also, take this time to learn more about yourself and reflect. What events perspired that brought you here? What do you want from life, and what can you do to get you there?
Most importantly, traveling can spark the spontaneity in you. Explore with no itinerary, and see where the culture and time will take you.
Remember or rediscover what makes you happy, and get back to that. Take a hike, go for an ocean swim, meditate, journal, pray, or maybe go to the spa are just a few ideas. What is most important is that you remove the thought that self-care is more that the afore mentioned things. It is a daily practice of making decisions that nourish your mind, body, and soul creating an evolution of self-discovery and some growth.
Self-discovery is on-going and DOES NOT have a time limit. Life throws both good and bad experiences at you. It is up to you to take them, learn from them, and in turn grow. I hope you enjoyed this installment of the self-care series, and stay tuned for the next one.
LT Moriamo Sulaiman-Ifelodun is an active duty Army officer in the Military Intelligence Branch. She is prior enlisted and served in combat with the 5th Special Forces Group. This article represents the personal opinion of the author, and does not reflect an official position of the Department of Defense or the US Army.