Note: This is the second in a three-part series that will run on the CVN Blog in December. Part one appeared last week.
To help alleviate some of this holiday season’s strain, we asked the staff at our Cohen Clinics for some tips on how to combat stress and keep you in the holiday spirit. Many of the stressors that plague us during the holiday season can be handled or eliminated all together if dealt with proactively.
Tip 4: Set boundaries
The holidays bring family together that may be related to us, but who may not always see eye-to-eye. Differences in opinion can cause conflict and stress. Coordinator of the Telemental Health Program at NYU Langone, Dr. Laura Price, suggests setting clear boundaries about the discussion of sensitive topics such as politics and religion over holiday meals.
“Have rules of engagement around politics to mitigate flying drumsticks.”
Instead of fixating on your differences, Clinician Robert Brott, in Killeen, TX, suggests planning to focus on what we have in common, and what brings us together. He says if somebody is insistent on discussing inflammatory topics, find a way to excuse yourself from the conversation, or attempt to change the topic all-together.
Tip 5: Stay active
A packed holiday schedule can make sticking to any routine difficult, but as NYU Clinic Director, Dr. Amanda Spray suggests; finding just 20 minutes a day to exercise will help relive stress and better prepare you to deal with that busy schedule.
“I try to stick to my yoga classes. If I can’t make it because of all the obligations, I’ve come to realize that taking short breaks and practicing for 10 minutes wherever I am on my own does wonders. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing!”
Dr. Cheryl Paulhus, Clinic Director in Killeen Tx, instructs us to do our best to stick to regularly scheduled workouts, but to not be too hard on ourselves if we miss one. Try replacing missed workouts with quick exercises at home, at work, or on the go.
Tip 6: Be mindful
Amidst the hectic rush to cook elaborate meals, unwrap gifts, and beat holiday traffic, we often forget why we celebrate in the first place. And while those reasons may differ from person to person, nurse practitioner, Brenda Sikorski, in El Paso, TX reminds us to reflect on what the holidays mean to us; to pause, re-center ourselves and savor the moment.
** 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