The holiday season has arrived in the Stuttgart military community. My family and I are looking forward to all of the activities that make this a special time of year … parties, excursions to the German Christmas markets, decorating the house, family gatherings and walks in the snow.
It should be the happiest time of year, right?
Yet for many people, it’s the time when frustrations begin to build, and anxiety and depression set in.
Between preparing big meals, shopping for that perfect gift, decorating the house and spending money on others, many people find the holidays are a time of overwhelming stress.
Add to that day after day of gray, dreary skies; being stationed thousands of miles away from families and friends; or a family separation because of a deployment, and suddenly, life can seem very tough.
To combat stress, experts recommend that you should keep up a regular exercise routine, maintain a healthy eating schedule, get plenty of sleep and take a break from a hectic schedule whenever you need to. They also say you’ve got to make sure that holiday goals are realistic and accept that things aren’t always going to go as planned. It’s good advice.
can trigger inappropriate coping behaviors
in vulnerable individuals.
But while it may be normal to feel overwhelmed during this time of year, as part of the military family we must all be aware that heightened stress, relationship problems and the impending holidays can trigger inappropriate coping behaviors in vulnerable individuals.
Pay close attention to the personal needs of those around you, and be on the lookout for signs of stress and depression. If you see signs of either in someone you know, don’t ignore them.
It doesn’t matter what we label ourselves — battle buddies, shipmates, wing men or devil dogs — we need to make sure we are promoting a climate of mutual “buddy care” among all services and across the entire community. Reach out this holiday season and invite a single service member into your home. If you know a spouse who is having a hard time, extend a helping hand … offer to baby sit or invite her over for coffee.
Help a less fortunate family by participating in the Angel Tree program. If your celebrations include the use of alcohol, make sure you drink responsibly and don’t allow your battle buddies to get into situations that may embarrass or hurt them, their families or their units. Sometimes we can forget what the holiday season is really about. It’s not the presents, elaborate decorations or gourmet food.
It’s about family, and that includes our military family.