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Coping with holiday stress

Posted 12/15/2011   Updated 12/15/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by Maj. Lisa M. Hoyt
66th Medical Squadron


12/15/2011 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The holidays are here and although many believe that "it's the most wonderful time of the year," some find the season particularly stressful, especially with the U.S. in a recession. During these tough economic times, the tradition of shopping, traveling, parties and the pressure of family get-togethers often intensifies stress and feelings of despair.

Many Airmen may find themselves juggling with a number of stressors, along with subsequent negative feelings. There are times in life when negative feelings are normal and even appropriate, according to Hanscom mental health team, and this is particularly true when people are away from their loved ones or are struggling to pay the bills.

Whatever the case, all Airmen are strongly encouraged to seek out and help their fellow Airmen with holiday stress.

Mental health providers here urge leaders and wingmen to look out for one another, especially during the holidays and note that this cannot be done sitting in cubicles and sending out taskers. This requires supervisors walking around and looking fellow Airmen in the eyes and asking how they are doing.

Signs of stress may vary from person to person and situation to situation. Some significant signs of stress may include:

· Behavioral changes such as social isolation, deterioration in an Airman's appearance or work performance

· Cognitive changes such as slow or poor decision-making, decreased memory or concentration

· Mood changes such as being constantly angry, sad or irritable and frequent mood fluctuations

· Expressed feelings of hopelessness and helplessness

· Increased use of alcohol to help cope with the stress

The mental health team also recommends that leaders and fellow wingman, take care of themselves, too. When worry, stress, sadness and anger overcome a person's ability to enjoy the holidays, it's time for them to check their "OIL."

If these negative feelings impact a person's Occupation, Interpersonal relationships and Leisure activities for a period longer than two weeks, it's time for them to seek help.

There is a wealth of resources available to active duty members and their families, such as mental health, chaplains, the Airman and Family Readiness Center, Military Family Life Consultants and Military OneSource.

Those who have any questions, concerns or would like additional information may call the Mental Health clinic at 781-377-4791.

Here are some tips for reducing holiday stress and anxiety:

· Keep holiday expectations real, balancing the demands of the holiday season.

· Use alcohol moderately. Alcohol is a depressant and can increase your feelings of sadness.

· Nurture your body by eating right. A balanced diet and moderate exercise and rest will help reduce stress and will generally make you feel better.

· Set a holiday budget and stick to it. Overspending during the season can lead to stress and anxiety. Spend wisely and remember it's the thought that counts.



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