Commentary Search

Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- It's that time of year again, the holidays are upon us. It seems as though the commercialism starts earlier every year. It may be even more challenging this year with all the uncertainty occurring across the world. In fact, I'm not even sure children unloaded their Halloween candy bags before the toy commercials started on television.

You may be asking yourself, can I handle another year of gift buying, office parties, baking, in-laws and all the financial problems that can go along with this time of year.

In order to truly enjoy the holidays, we may need to refocus on what this time of year is really about. The season is about being thankful and enjoying time with the people we truly care about. Before you decide to open that tempting credit card offer, or respond to all those Facebook requests, understand that there are some important strategies you can apply to help you through this holiday season.

· Practice gratitude and self-care. Begin by taking care of yourself and being realistic with your expectations this year. Remember, you do not have to prove your worth to anyone but yourself, so be kind and appreciative to the person in the mirror.
· Avoid excess alcohol use. There will be lots of temptations during the holiday season and many holiday parties to attend. It is important to have the ability and courage to say no to alcohol and avoid excess drinking. Remember to utilize the 0-0-1-3 strategy.
· Set a money limit. Stick to a realistic budget for gifts, food, travel, etc. Avoid using your credit card if possible and remember, no matter how hard they will try and have you believe otherwise, pay-day loan companies are not your friend and the expensive gift you buy will not make you or the other person feel better inside.
· Be stingy with your time. This time of year it seems everyone is asking you to donate time or money for a good cause. If you volunteer your time to everyone who needs you, you will not have any time to take care of yourself. Remember it is alright to say no.
· Practice sensible eating habits. This time of year can cause severe problems for people trying to manage their weight. Too often, co-workers or friends will bring baked goods to work or to your home. If you must indulge, be sensible about portions and avoid seconds, no matter how delicious it may be.
· Stay active. As the weather turns colder and the days get shorter, it is easier for us to make excuses for not exercising. If you schedule a set time for exercise and make it a social activity, you will be more successful at maintaining active lifestyle.

It is never too early to start talking to your family about money concerns and realistic expectations. As the military explores cost cutting measures due to the ongoing financial challenges, it may be time to discuss having a "less commercial" holiday season and setting some money aside for unknown events that may occur in 2015.

As the saying goes, "it is better to plan for the worst and hope for the best, then to get caught off-guard by the unexpected."

I hope you take the time to enjoy your true family and personal friends over the next few weeks.