Your psychological fitness plays an important role in mission readiness. Caring for your mind and body can help you balance the demands of military life. However, it can be challenging to find the time to focus on yourself and your psychological health. Learn how to manage your time more effectively and find tips to help make your psychological health a priority.
Barrier to Care: Finding the Time
Between work responsibilities and family life, your day-to-day schedule can fill up quickly. Research shows that time can be a barrier to psychological health care in the military. For example, you may be concerned that seeking treatment could take time away from serving your unit and performing your military duties.
You may also be less likely to address your psychological health if you are:
- Unable to see your health care professional for an appointment during business hours
- Unable to find the time to follow through with recommended care
However, it is important to make time to seek care for your psychological health concerns early to avoid more serious health concerns. By improving your health, you can increase your ability to cope with stress, boost your performance and strengthen your relationships. Take the steps below to help you better manage your time and focus on improving your psychological health.
Tips for Prioritizing Your Health
Plan your day to increase productivity and allow yourself extra time needed to focus on your health.
- Set aside time on your off days to plan your schedule for the upcoming week.
- Try to maintain a regular, repeating schedule, even if you work non-traditional hours.
- Make a list of tasks for each day and prioritize the most important activities.
- Use your list every day, adding and removing tasks as needed.
- Consider using a planner or calendar app to help keep track of your schedule.
- Schedule time for psychological health appointments and leave enough time for travel.
Set Aside “Me” Time
Take some time to relax on your own. This alone time is important to help reduce stress, boost energy and recharge.
- Try to commit to a minimum of 15-20 minutes of "me" time every day.
- Consider using “me” time to improve your psychological fitness or do an activity you enjoy.
Use Time Wisely
Try to use time effectively to better balance your daily tasks.
- Prioritize tasks that directly help you achieve your goals.
- Minimize distractions, such as television or social media, while completing your daily tasks.
Learn to Say “No” Sometimes
Set boundaries on commitments to others to allow more time to reach your psychological health goals.
- Avoid overcommitting your time with too many tasks.
- Give your goals priority over the goals of other people.
- Keep maintaining relationships in mind but value your time and set boundaries on some commitments.
Ask for Help
Share your psychological health goals with your family and friends so they can help you manage your time and ease stress.
- Reach out to people you trust to ask for help with tasks.
- Show sincere gratitude to those who are able to help you.
Think positively to change the way you view and manage your time.
- Think, “I can adjust how I spend my time,” instead of “there is not enough time.”
- Use the tips above to carve out the time you need in your schedule.
Making your psychological health a priority is an important step toward your overall health. Reaching out is a sign of strength and talking with a professional may help. Call the Psychological Health Resource Center at 866-966-1020 or use the Real Warriors Live Chat. You can speak 24/7 with a trained health resource consultant for help accessing care.
Acosta, J. D., Huang, W., Edelen, M. O., Cerully, J. L., Soliman, S., & Chandra, A. (2018) Jennifer L. Measuring Barriers to Mental Health Care in the Military: The RAND Barriers and Facilitators to Care Item Banks. RAND Corporation.
Dierdorff, Erich. (2020, January 29). Time Management Is About More Than Life Hacks. Harvard Business Review.
Gino, Francesca. (2016, April 14). Are You Too Stressed to Be Productive? Or Not Stressed Enough? Harvard Business Review.
Human Performance Resources by CHAMP. (2020, April 30). Make Stress Good for You!
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institutes of Health. (n.d.) 5 Things You Should Know About Stress.