Dealing with holiday stress, what to avoid, encourage

  • Published
  • By SRA Joshua Duran
  • 673d Medical Group
The holiday season for most Americans begins on Thanksgiving and lasts through New Year's Day.

In addition to family feasts, gift giving and other joyful experiences, the holiday season can be a very stressful time for many.

Below is a basic description of holiday stress and an example of how to overcome the negative effects.

Holiday stress is any physical, emotional, behavioral, or psychological demand placed on the body during the season.

More specifically, it comes from how we react to work, family, financial, social, health, and environmental demands during the holidays.

Common holiday stressors include responsibilities at work, visits with extended family members, increased financial strain, separation from loved ones, and extreme weather

If many or all of these demands are present during the holiday season, vulnerability to negative stress reactions may increase.

Possible reactions include headaches, fatigue, avoiding activities or people, anger, depression, alcohol and substance abuse, and weight gain.

One way to minimize stress is to examine your unique set of demands and find ways to

Financial concerns can be alleviated through exchange of coupons instead of gifts, for example, vouchers for back rubs, naps, doing the dishes, or trips to the ice cream shop.
The possibilities are endless.

There are many ways to bring holiday satisfaction to loved ones besides buying expensive gifts.

For those who are separated from close friends or family this holiday season, view it as an opportunity to volunteer for others who are less fortunate.

Many local families participate in the Adopt a Service Member Program where active duty members are invited into local family's homes to share in holiday celebrations.

Finding realistic ways to manage holiday stress parallels simplicity.

Instead of placing too much value on expensive merchandise, holiday bonuses and family vacations, for example, appreciate the subtle qualities in family, home and work and respect for others.

Instead of expensive travel, simplify your circumstances by staying home for the holidays.
Get outside and enjoy the local scenery and attractions.

The wintertime in Anchorage brings out some unique art forms such as ice carving and sculpture contests.

Avoid negative thinking that can filter or discredit the joyful experiences that the holiday season should bring.

This holiday season spend less time when purchasing gifts, organizing, cleaning, watching television, and fixing "stuff."

Focus more on important things, such as an afternoon together with family or friends or a day of charitable work.

If your schedule gets filled with holiday parties or visits with extended family or friends, be sure and take a day off and spend time with those who are closest to
Do not become victimized by negative holiday stress.

Challenge unrealistic thoughts that affect your well being and simplify demands as much as possible.

If you feel stressed or overwhelmed and need to talk to someone, call one of the following numbers; Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647; Military and Family Life Consultant at 382-2799, 317-4448, 382-1407, 351-4781; 673d Medical Group Mental Health Clinic at 580-2181; Army Behavioral Health at 384-0405; TRIWEST at 1-888-TRIWEST (874-9378).

If you have finance or budgeting concerns, please contact the Military and Family Readiness Center at 552-4943, Army Community Services at 384-7509 or a Personal Financial Counselor (through a family life consultant) at 428-7524.