To help alleviate some of this holiday season’s strain, staff at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinics across the country have provided some tips on how to combat stress and keep you in the holiday spirit. The tips are summarized here in this Holiday Wellness Tips infographic and explained in greater detail in our three-part CVN Blog series. This is the final blog entry, while parts one and two appeared previously.
Tip 7: Keep expectations reasonable
Welcoming family can be a source of stress during this time and it’s important to remember to try and accept family members as they are. To those hosts that strive for perfection, Clarksville, TN Clinic Director, Lisa Eggebeen suggests the key to a stress-free gathering is flexibility.
“You can’t please everyone all the time. Learn to host gatherings in a different way. Delegate tasks to others and don’t make the mistake of trying to do too much. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed.”
The ‘perfect family gathering’ is illusory and chasing it will only cause anxiety. Instead, Tacoma, WA Clinic Director Nichole Ayres, suggests; loosen those expectations, relax, and focus on being present and enjoying each moment.
Tip 8: Holidays aren’t for everyone
Lead Clinician in Tacoma, Tom Pham reminds us not to assume everyone loves the holidays. For some, the holidays serve as a reminder of lost loved ones or stir up any number of painful memories. It’s important to remain emotionally sensitive and remember everyone copes with the holidays in different ways.
Tip 9: Spread the holiday cheer
Outreach Manager, Shawn Durnen, instructs us to look outward and offer a lending hand within our community. Selfless service to others during the holiday season not only lifts the spirits of those around us, but helps keep us active, and mindful, and reduces stress. One of the most rewarding methods of coping with holiday stress is by volunteering to help those less fortunate.
“Remember your community. Appreciate what you have and not just what you want.”
We suggest visiting VolunteerMatch.Org to see if there are opportunities to give back right in your own community!
Tip 10: Find ways to laugh!
Finally, as Clinic Director Scott Rheinschmidt in San Antonio, TX reminds us; be sure to laugh! It’s often overlooked during the frenzy of the holiday season, but laughter is good medicine. Laughter is proven, like exercise, to relieve stress, increase the production of antibodies, and decrease stress hormones, so make a commitment to be present and involved in holiday festivities; smile, and laugh.
** If you’re struggling this holiday season, remember you are not alone. Reach out to get the support you need and encourage loved ones to do the same. Free, confidential support is available 24/7. Call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, press 1 for veterans. **
Cohen Veterans Network clinics nationwide provide accessible, high-quality mental health care for post 9/11 veterans and military families. Find a clinic near you.
By Chris Malvagna
CVN Communications Associate