Back to Top Skip to main content

Don’t let holiday stress get you down

The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health. Keep a check on over-commitment and over-spending. Balance work, home and play. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Destinee Dougherty) The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health. Keep a check on over-commitment and over-spending. Balance work, home and play. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Destinee Dougherty)

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Mental Wellness

The holiday season, once viewed as extending from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, is now considered by some to include Halloween because of the preparation, anticipation and excitement that come with the Oct. 31 celebration.

In addition, many stores now stock their shelves with Christmas merchandise before Halloween.

Despite the fun and enjoyment the holidays can bring for many, for others, it can be a time of stress, anxiety and depression, according to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center chaplains and other behavioral health experts. They explain the holidays can present a number of challenges, including family demands, spending, shopping, parties, cooking, entertaining, cleaning and more.

“First, society places a lot of pressure around the holidays,” stated Army Chaplain (Capt.) Heather Borshof, a student in the Clinical Pastoral Education program at WRNMMC. “It is embedded in us culturally that there is the expectation that everything needs to be perfect during the holidays. For most that is not the situation.

“Second, holidays can be expensive and not everyone has the means to buy what our culture says we cannot live without. People either place themselves in debt, or feel badly about not being able to afford those items that society says we must have,” the chaplain continued.

“Third, holidays can be a lot of work. Other life responsibilities do not stop and the added pressure of getting everything done for the holidays can bring about more stress than joy,” said Borshof.

“Finally, the expectations are that the holidays are a time to be with family and friends. Those who are without often feel sad and depressed because it reminds them that they are alone,” she said.

Borshof recommends keeping things in perspective to decrease stress and depression during the holidays. “Nothing is perfect and that is alright. Things will go wrong, and the key is to remember that something is not ruined just because it is not perfect.”

She explained your child may not get the most desirable Halloween costume, which may be out of stock or just too expensive, but that doesn’t have to take the fun out of the celebration because a home-made costume could be just as nice and unique.

“If one can go into a situation knowing that things are not perfect, and tries to keep calm, it may decrease the stress,” Borshof said. “If the turkey comes out dry, that is not the end of the world. In fact, it may be something to laugh about later on.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has similar advice. “The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health. Keep a check on over-commitment and over-spending. Balance work, home and play. Get support from family and friends. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook.”

“We tend to make the holidays high maintenance. They do not have to be that way,” Borshof continued. “If one person is usually the one who prepares everything, it may help to ask others for help. And if that is not possible, scale things down a bit. The spirit of the holidays will still be there.

Another consideration often forgotten is many of the holidays are religious in nature, the chaplain added. “Focusing on a higher power or higher cause may help to restore perspective. Whether it is going to a service, or engaging in community service, it can move the focus in a more positive direction,” she said.

Regarding the little ones, Borshof said, “Children learn from what they witness firsthand. If kids see their parents stressed out and depressed, they are going to feel that as well. However, if parents and adults keep things in perspective, children will learn from that as well.”

She cautions overindulging and drinking too much as means for handling stress and depression. “Alcohol is a depressant and often becomes the cause of fights and other stresses. Stay sober and in control.”

You also may be interested in...

There is hope

Article
7/11/2018
Medically assisted treatment for opioid use can break the cycle of addiction.

More than 350,000 deaths are attributed to opioid overdoses nationwide since 1999

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Substance Abuse | Addiction | Mental Wellness

Life without liquor

Article
6/29/2018
There are 2.5 million alcohol-related deaths worldwide each year, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. (Courtesy photo)

One service member’s story of how he overcame a drinking problem

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Substance Abuse

Going the distance runs in the family

Article
6/14/2018
Elisa Zwanenburg (left) and Al Richmond (right) engage in their favorite father-daughter activity, marathon running. (Courtesy photo by James Frank)

For this father/daughter team, running, and the Marine Corps principles that carry them, are in their blood

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Physical Activity | Men's Health

Breaking down anxiety one fear at a time

Article
6/5/2018
Marine Staff Sgt. Andrew Gales participates in ‘battlefield’ acupuncture, also known as ‘ear acupuncture,’ at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, as a treatment for anxiety related to PTSD. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin Cunningham)

Generalized anxiety, panic disorder, and anxiety related to PTSD are common disorders. In fact, an estimated 31 percent of U.S. adults experience anxiety at some point in their lives; one marine discusses his journey.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Preventive Health | Men's Health | Mental Wellness | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Assess your mental wellness during Mental Health Awareness Month

Article
5/25/2018
Similar to physical health, mental health requires regular care. Mental health is as critical as physical health to mission readiness. Therefore, it’s just as important to invest in your mental health as it is your physical health. (U.S. Air Force photo)

TRICARE provides mental health services for you and your family at all times

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Mental Wellness | Men's Health | TRICARE Health Program

TRICARE Mental Health

Video
5/24/2018
TRICARE Mental Health

Watch this video to learn more about the mental health care benefits TRICARE provides

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care

Breaking down the image: Mental health

Article
5/22/2018
Kevin Hines, a suicide survivor and activist for suicide prevention, speaks to Airmen assigned to the 28th Bomb Wing about his story at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. Hines is one of 36 people to survive a suicide attempt by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nicolas Z. Erwin)

May has been National Mental Health Month since 1949

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Health Readiness | Mental Wellness

Years in the making: How the risk for Alzheimer’s disease can be reduced

Article
5/18/2018
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 5.5 million Americans, up to 1.7 percent of the population, may have Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms such as memory problems, impaired reasoning or judgment, vision or spatial issues, and difficulty finding words can indicate early stages of the disease. (U.S. Army graphic)

About 3 million new cases of Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia, are diagnosed every year. Experts say lifestyle modifications can help prevent this disease.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Mental Wellness

Making behavioral health care easy

Article
5/11/2018
Army Staff Sgt. Michael McMillan (right), 35th Infantry Division behavioral health noncommissioned officer in charge, confers with Army Capt. Trever Patton, 35th ID psychologist, in Kuwait. Embedded behavioral health teams are a key part of providing easy access to care for service members. (Army photo by Staff Sgt. Tina Villalobos)

Embedded behavioral health teams let service members easily access behavioral health care right in their unit areas

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Mental Wellness

Ready, set, focus: Finding calm in a storm through the power of breathing

Article
4/23/2018
Airmen and Soldiers practice breathing and relaxation during their off duty time in a deployed location. Stress can take its toll on your mental and physical health, including your heart health, but there are breathing techniques to buffer yourself from it. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Lance Cheung)

‘Mindful minutes’ and deep breathing help on the job, airmen say

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Mental Wellness | Health Readiness

Military providers seek tailored approach to treating PTSD

Article
3/14/2018
The VA/DoD clinical practice guideline for managing post-traumatic stress disorder and acute stress disorder recommends against prescribing benzodiazepines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Pick)

New tool reviews, monitors provider prescribing habits

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Military Hospitals and Clinics | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Traumatic Brain Injury and the Art of Paddling

Article
3/7/2018
Collins enjoys stand-up paddle boarding for how it helps him with TBI. His service dog, Charlie, likes it too. (Courtesy Photo by U.S. Army Special Operations veteran Josh Collins)

A U.S. Army veteran’s recipe for embracing life after several TBIs

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Hearing Loss | Men's Health | Physical Activity | Physical Disability | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder | Traumatic Brain Injury | Vision Loss

New DoD educational podcast series promotes better health

Article
3/5/2018
The Defense Health Agency’s instructional podcasts highlight health technology and offer tips, tools and techniques to help improve the lives of those in the military community.

The instructional podcasts highlight health technology and offer tips, tools and techniques to help improve the lives of those in the military community

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Sleep | Mental Wellness

Rocky and Elmo want providers to "Watch. Ask. Share."

Article
2/12/2018
Defense Health Agency Director Vice Admiral Raquel “Rocky” Bono joined Sesame Street’s Elmo to record a welcome video for the new provider section of the Sesame Street for Military Families website. (Photo by MHS Communications)

How DHA teamed with Sesame Street to help care for military families

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Public Health | Preventive Health | Children's Health | Deployment Health

Your military family: The key to beating holiday blues

Article
12/20/2017
Airman Adrianna Barelas, 4th Space Operations Squadron system administrator, displays her Grinch side for the holiday season at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Dec. 1, 2017. Many things can cause stress during the holidays, including travel, financial strain from gift buying, and the expectations of friends and family. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class William Tracy)

Lift your mood with healthy basics

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 6

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing: Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.