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Coping with the holiday blues

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado --

Imagine Christmas trees, snow, music and the cheers of family or friends visiting. The holidays are a time of celebration and togetherness. They are often a time to enjoy those around us and break from our busy schedules. Although these may be the things many of us experience for the holidays, for some of us, it is also a time of increased stress, depression and loneliness.

The holiday season also comes with extra stress. These stressors can be factors contributing to what has been named the “holiday blues.” According to the Mayo Clinic, the holiday season often brings unwelcome guests, stress and depression. The holidays give a multitude of demands, parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining. While some view these as a positive, others can become overwhelmed especially if the demands must be met alone.

“For many of our military families their loved ones are deployed during the holiday season,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Robert Ward, 460th Space Wing chaplain. “While a lot of families are together and feeling holiday joy, for those members that are geographically separated it can cause a lot of stress on the family as well as the military member.”

Chaplain Ward added that during the holiday season there is something telling us we are supposed to be filled with joy. The pressure to be positive and reaffirming can bring even more stress when sometimes people have major life changing events such as losing a loved one. It’s important to take the time needed to grieve and remember the resources available to you.

There are several places to turn for military members and their families to help reduce stress and get any help needed.

Take some time to reaffirm the reasons for the hectic pace. Identifying the personal significance, whether it's about family, religion or new beginnings, can help remind anyone of why they get so busy.

Prioritize time; it's not possible to do everything, and don't forget to take a break every once in a while.

The expense of the season often causes stress and anxiety as well, for those unable to afford costly gifts. Consider natural talents and use creativity. Gifts made by hand are a great way to show that one cares.

Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a depressant and could intensify any feelings of sadness.

Get moving. Physical activity can help bolster mood and mitigate stress while also working off extra calories from holiday parties.

For those separated from family or unable to return home, take the opportunity to create new traditions with friends.

Feelings of sadness are normal. Concerns arise when these feelings are prolonged or start to adversely impact one's life.

Know personal limits and pay attention to the body's stress signals. Taking care of one's self today will lead to a better tomorrow.

Finally, if you feel like you need extra support, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you trust. This can include a spouse, friend, coworker, supervisor or first sergeant. If you think you need assistance with holiday stress, other resources available are the Chapel (720) 847-4631, Mental Health Clinic, National Suicide Prevention (1-800) 273-TALK, Employee Assistance Program (1-800) 222-0364, Family Advocacy (720) 847-6453, and Military One Source (1-800) 342-9647. All Buckley members can practice being good wingmen by watching out for those around them.

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