Tips to avoid holiday stress

  • Published
  • By Glenn Garcia
  • 90th Medical Operations Squadron
It's that time of year again, the holidays are upon us. It seems as though the advertisements start earlier every year. This year may be even more challenging with all the pending financial instability. Many Airmen may be asking themselves how they can handle another year of gift buying, fruitcake, 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 need to refocus ourselves on what this time of year is really about - being thankful and enjoying time with the people we truly care about. Before deciding to open that tempting credit card offer, or responding to all those Facebook notifications, understand there are some important strategies to get through this holiday season.

· Stress proofing life. Begin by taking care of, and being realistic about, expectations this year. There is no need to prove one's worth to anyone, 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 will be important to have the ability and courage to say no to alcohol and avoid excess drinking.

· Set a money limit. Stick to a realistic budget for gifts, food, travel, etc. Avoid using a credit card if possible and remember, no matter how hard they will try to convince otherwise, pay-day loan companies are not friends.

· Be stingy with time. This time of year it seems everyone is asking for donations of time or money for a good cause. Volunteering time to anyone who asks will leave no 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. 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. Schedule a set time for exercise and make it a social activity, this will help being more successful at maintaining an active lifestyle.

It is never too early to start talking to family about money concerns and realistic expectations. As the military prepares for possible cuts due to the impending fiscal cliff, it may be time to discuss having a less commercial holiday season and setting some money aside for unknown events that may occur in 2014, such as additional furloughs or potential shutdowns. As the saying goes, "it is better to plan for the worst and hope for the best, then to caught off-guard by the unexpected."

I hope everyone can take the time to enjoy time with family and personal friends over the next few weeks.