The holidays can be one of the most joyful times of year; they can also be one of the most stressful. Our expectations of the holiday experience can cause us unwanted stress. Whether you are home preparing for big celebrations or anticipating an upcoming deployment – try to be objective about what you can expect.
Talk to friends and family about ways to minimize the loneliness of separations, or the loss of the comforts of home. Discuss what is possible and what will work best for everyone. Don’t assume others know what you want – have a conversation about what everyone hopes for, then decide what you can or can’t do. No matter the case, keep in mind that by managing holiday expectations you can enjoy the season by reducing your stress level.
Below are some stress reducing tips to help you set the stage for a joy filled holiday.
1. Take advantage of leave periods and relax for a few days by doing something you enjoy. Holiday stand-down periods provide flexibility for much needed rest to recover from the demands of Navy life.
2. Be a good listener. While being around family can be fun and exciting, it can also be stressful. Hearing Uncle Joe’s 100th repetition of his favorite story; listening to your nieces and nephews latest successes or experiencing the tour of the new Ford F-150 you’ve always wanted by your brother-in-law can be exhausting. Holidays are short so try to give the gift of good company and the reward may even be learning new ways of appreciating the family you have.
3. Keep to your shopping budget. When it comes to holiday gift-giving, find creative ways to save money. Often times cooking a favorite dish or providing a respite from care or chores can be a much appreciated present.
4. Plan ahead. Travel can be treacherous. Preparing your car, early arrangements for pet care and plenty of rest can make the journey fun.
5. Plan your own observance. If you or a loved one will be away during the holidays, celebrate early or pick a day upon your return. Nothing says it has to be on a specific day.
To help Sailors, family members, and commands be better prepared for stressful times, the Navy has established the Operational Stress Control (OSC) program. Training is making its way to the Fleet and to family members. Sailors, families and commands are learning how to recognize the signs of stress and what actions to take.
For more information about dates and times for the next Operational Stress Control training, check with your local Fleet and Family Support Center. Leaders can also request training for their command.
Building resilience through stressful situations can make us better prepared for the next challenge. As the holidays approach, remember to take a minute to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures this time of year brings. By setting realistic expectations, you are sure to lower your stress level.
Posted by Capt. Lori A. Laraway, Coordinator, Navy’s Operational Stress Control (OSC) Program