Having someone you love deployed, whether child, partner, relative or close friend, is extremely stressful. As on military spouse told me, “Why am I acting like this?

STRESS

When we must separate from a loved one we have reactions that are physiological and emotional that are beyond our control. However, our emotional intelligence skills can helps us manage and tame them. It starts with understanding and self-awareness.

SEPARATION STRESS

Studies of newborns separated from their mother shows us the extremes of “protest-despair behavior.” The infant’s body reacts, pumping out stress hormones that affect the sympathetic nervous system, and certain somatic or muscular behaviors. There can be a ten-fold increase in glucocorticoid levels (cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’), approaching neurotoxic levels (Modi and Glover, 1998). Gastrointestinal functions are inhibited. The heart beat slows, body temperature falls, and the infant “withdraws,” presumably in an attempt to “survive.” If prolonged, the immune system is compromised.

Any separation from a loved one during our lifetime will mimic this reaction to separation, because we’re humans, because we love, because we bond.

At the same time, if the person being deployed is your lover, you’ll be deprived of the oxytocin, the hormone released when we touch, or even think about, our love that makes us feel so good.

The price we pay for the joy of love is that separation is painful.

WHAT TO EXPECT

It’s normal, under these circumstances to:

· Feel like you’re going nuts.
· Cry a lot.
· Have trouble making even the smallest decision.
· Find food tastes like cardboard
· Never sleep or want to sleep all the time
· Be angry and short-tempered
· Kick the kitchen stool in your way and be unable to talk about what’s really going on
· Breathe funny
· Be short-tempered
· Experience rage at the inability of anyone to say or do anything that helps

WHAT CAN HELP?

“Share your thoughts, vent your anger, or ask for help,” says the Submarine Wives Club. “We are all in the same ‘boat’ and are here to offer support and advice.”

1. Find national support groups, resources, and pre-deployment tips here:
http://www.submarinewivesclub.org

5. At the stress forum, you can ask questions, share tips or find a sympathetic listener 24 hours a day at http://stress.about.com/mpboards.htm

6. Hire a coach.

Get some extra support. Work on some personal goals. Keep your life going! Coaches understand.

7. Develop your emotional intelligence.

The EQ© Course ( http://www.susandunn.cc/courses.htm ) provides foundational information for coping, handling transitions and adversity, and managing emotions. It will help you understand where you emotions come from and why they make you feel as you do. An EQ coach ( http://www.susandunn.cc ) can help you practice these skills and incorporate them into your life on a daily basis.

9. Take positive action.
The Navy Family Deployment guide says: “The cure for depression is the same as prevention. Take positive action. Behavior is changed by thoughts and feelings.” Join a support group, hire a coach, keep family traditions thriving, plan activities, set new goals, take care of yourself and don’t be alone.

10. Xtreme Self-care.

Because of these physiological responses, you need to pay attention to your exercise, eating and general health routine. You may not feel like running in the morning, but do it, and you’ll feel better – in the short-term and in the long-run. Find healthy food you can enjoy – eat small snacks all day, if you’re appetite is low. Get a physical checkup if problems arise.

11. Know your limits.

If you are experiencing an especially difficult time, get professional help. Therapists and counselors are waiting to help you.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, offers individual coaching and Internet courses on emotional intelligence. Business programs available for an EQ culture. Email for FREE Strengths course, FREE ezine.