By Airman 1st Class William Tracy
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Ebenezer Scrooge’s signature catchphrase has become well known in popular culture as an expression of distaste towards holiday festivities, but one does not need to be a scrooge to have negative feelings associated with the holiday season.
“The holidays are a very special time of year, but all the added activity, shopping and togetherness can lead to significant stress,” said Ruth Moore, Airman and Family Readiness Center community readiness consultant, and speaker for the “Managing Holiday Stress” class Dec. 1. “This stress can affect your health, and can sabotage the quality and quantity of sleep you enjoy as well.”
Moore’s class highlighted the various factors that can stress someone out during the holidays, and provided a list of ways to help cope.
Some of these include humming a jingle, planting a tree, keeping a journal and practicing breathing slowly.
“Go out and try new things,” Moore said. “Make a schedule and remember it’s ok to say no.”
Additionally, the class featured nine ways to beat the “Bah Humbugs” –
1. Relax — Take time out of the busy holiday schedule to relax.
2. Plan and prioritize — Don’t clutter or over plan, develop a calendar for specific shopping days, cooking days, visiting friends and other events.
3. Set realistic expectations — Keep a level head and realistic output to avoid stress.
4. Budget — Money is often cited as the number one stress factor during the holidays; set a spending limit and stick to it. Seek out holiday events that are free.
5. Don’t force festivities — Sometimes embracing the blues is a good thing, as it provides time to take an in-depth look at one’s problems. Do not force certain feelings for certain occasions and blanket over negative ones.
6. Be healthful — The holiday season can be tempting, do not abandon healthy habits for the sake of festivities. Getting plenty of sleep and eating healthy will improve one’s mood.
7. Volunteer — Volunteering can counterbalance feelings of sadness and depression. It can help combat loneliness and give one purpose.
8. Be introspective — While the holidays often place one in social situations, paying attention to inner thoughts and feelings can help address stress.
9. Start new traditions — Starting a new tradition can keep festivities fresh.
“We always think, ‘we should do this’ or ‘we should do that,’ but it’s important to remember you don’t have to do everything all at once,” Moore said. “It’s important to live in the present moment. Sometimes, we are so busy running around we forget to stop and enjoy the holidays for what they are.”
Staff Sgt. Tanya Russell, 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron mission planner, attended Moore’s class and shared what makes her stressed during the holidays.
“Money always stresses me out, every year,” Russell said. “People always feel obligated to put a lot of money towards things that are not necessary, there’s always pressure to give more than you have.”
She said the class provided new insight on dealing with stress she can share with her Airmen.
“It really helps to know other people deal with similar kinds of stress,” Russell said. “The class highlights how the holidays can be a stressful time, especially for young people, and gave me resources to help others.”
Taking a proactive approach and adopting ways to cope with holiday stress factors can make the festivities brighter for everybody.
“Stressed spelled backwards is desserts,” Moore said.
It’s always important to treat oneself.
“Somedays you eat a salad and go to the gym, somedays you eat cupcakes and refuse to wear pants, it’s called balance,” laughed Moore.
She emphasized the various helping agencies available for Schriever Airmen and their families, such as Military OneSouce and Military and Family Life Counselors.
“We have many on and off base resources,” Moore said. “If you ever need help reaching out, we can assist.”
For more information about how to manage holiday stress and future classes, call the Airman and Family Readiness Center at 567-3920 or call 567-HELP (4357).