Health & Wellness

For military families, the only constant in our lives is change. New friends, new places, new house, new job, new school. This can often feel like a daunting position to be in regardless of whether you are a service member, a spouse or a military brat.

As a former Army brat and now Army wife, I have found reading to be one of my best kept secrets in coping with a move or deployment. I find it comforting to be able to escape into a book and be a part of someone’s story without the burden of that story being my own.

Reading is one of the easiest forms of self-care you can practice. Buying a book for yourself, or someone else, is an investment in their mental health, education and overall well-being.

As school or work began taking over my life and later as I became a mom, I found it increasingly difficult to find time for myself to read. The reality is these are actually the most important times I should be taking a few minutes to myself.

I have made it a priority to take 20 minutes every day to read something — anything. If I feel as though I am behind in my current events, I’ll read the news. If I just need an exciting mystery or drama getaway, I’ll read a book. I’m not one to judge a book by its cover, but I am definitely someone who values the opinions of others. I follow multiple book clubs and recommendation pages on social media to pick out my next find. If I’m working on a project for a client and need guidance or new ideas, there is always a self-help style book to point me in the right direction.

I fell in love with reading at a young age and knew I wanted my children to have the same admiration. Before my daughter Eleanor was even born, she had a collection of books waiting for her. When planning my baby shower, my sister asked everyone to bring their favorite children’s book instead of a card. This was such a beautiful way to start sharing our love of reading from day one.

Reading has become a part of our bedtime routine. After a soothing bath and jammies, Eleanor and I rock slowly together reading a book or two to quiet her mind and calm her tired eyes. We even have my deployed husband in on the action. Before he left, I recorded him reading a few books. I play these often while reading along and turning the pages. It is one of my favorite ways to feel as though we are still reading as a family.

If you are looking for a way to reduce stress or have a few moments of quiet time without spending a fortune or even leaving the house, pick up a book and see how you feel. You never know where a book may take you…if the military doesn’t take you there first!