Back to Top Skip to main content

Your military family: The key to beating holiday blues

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) 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)

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care

Haul out the holly; another holiday season is here. In addition to military life, add to your list decking the halls at home, taking little ones to visit Santa, picking out presents, wrapping gifts, baking treats, and attending special events at work, school, and in the neighborhood. With so much going on, it’s easy to run out of time, money, and patience.

Delilah Wieman, an Army spouse, talks with Fort Belvoir Community Hospital staff at a recent Family Readiness Group gathering. For 24 years, Wieman has stayed connected with the “military family” through 16 moves while raising five children. (Courtesy photo) Delilah Wieman, an Army spouse, talks with Fort Belvoir Community Hospital staff at a recent Family Readiness Group gathering. For 24 years, Wieman has stayed connected with the “military family” through 16 moves while raising five children. (Courtesy photo)

Maj. Aimee Ruscio, U.S. Army psychologist for the Psychological Health Center of Excellence, recommends relieving some of the holiday pressure by remembering to do basic things that can help maintain balance: get enough sleep, exercise, talk with a friend, and eat nutritious foods.

"When I think about stress around the holidays, one part of it is the increased pace,” said Ruscio. “People are trying to do so much in a short period of time."

Travel and getting together with your family could create anticipation, with positive or negative expectations. "Spending time with family can be very rewarding,” said Ruscio. “It can also be a very stressful experience. There is a range of how people respond to that togetherness."

Ruscio says since family relationships are so important, spouses, parents, children, and others can trigger stronger emotional responses. According to Ruscio, we can choose how to respond and decide if we are going to be upset or if we can “let the experience be what it is.” She said, “If you’re feeling a little down or stressed out around the holidays, just know it’s a totally normal reaction - even when you love your family."

If you’re feeling more blue than merry, Ruscio recommends reaching out to someone you trust to talk about it. Memories of deceased family members or friends can leave you feeling sad that they’re not here for holiday gatherings. If you’re going through a divorce or another major life change, songs of joy and love may feel overwhelming. While deployed, or if your family member is away, “the years you are apart can be difficult,” says Ruscio. “It can also help you value the time you are together. You won't take it for granted as much."

"If you're feeling down, there is a lot of data that says getting out and doing something fun is a great way to boost your mood," Ruscio said.

According to Delilah Wieman, an Army spouse since 1993, military members and their families need only look within their community to connect with others and shake off holiday stress. "Don't stay home,” said Wieman. “Don't be locked in your house with the kids over break just sad and bummed that you can't go home, whether it is due to lack of funds or because a spouse has to work.”

Early on, Wieman plugged into a Family Readiness Group, or FRG, and has remained involved through 16 moves, all while raising five children with her husband, Col. Jason Wieman, director of Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. "The military family has been the key for me, whether it's been during the holidays or outside of them," she said.

Most recently, Wieman was part of an effort to establish the Defense Health Agency’s first hospital FRG at Fort Belvoir. While an FRG has a social aspect, it helps members find resources, offers volunteer activities and other opportunities to build relationships, and serves as a voice of the community for the command and unit. Wieman says the FRG is helping take care of families so service members at the hospital can focus on their mission of caring for patients.

"The military family is always there, whether you’re single or not. We change out every couple of years with different people, but we are still the same family, there whenever you need something,” Wieman said. “I recommend people get together with others, like the neighbors or the unit members who are not on shift. Ultimately, these relationships make the holidays more fun and memorable."

You also may be interested in...

Study's focus: Mending hearts broken by deaths of military loved ones

Article
2/19/2019
Young military family members at a Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors Good Grief Camp in Denver, Colorado, created this collage to memorialize their lost loved ones. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Arielle Vasquez)

Military tests virtual programs for adapting to grief

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Mental Health Care

It's complicated: Our relationship with social media

Article
2/13/2019
An Army health care provider loads the T2 Mood Tracker mobile app on a mobile device for a demonstration for his patients. (DoD photo)

Social media can help connect and reconnect people; however, it may increase feelings of isolation or remind people of what they don’t have

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Connected Health

Technology Solutions for Psychological Health

Congressional Testimony
2/1/2019

HR 3219, HAC Report FY 2018, 115-219, Pg. 287-288

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care

Traumatic Brain Injury/Psychological Health

Congressional Testimony
1/25/2019

S. 3000, SAC Report for FY 2017, 114-263, Pg. 193

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Mental Health Care

A pain in the brain may be a migraine

Article
11/15/2018
Migraines affect women more than men with many options for treatment.

Women affected three times more frequently than men

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Women's Health

DHA IPM 18-019: Guidance for Service Implementation of Separation Mental Health Assessments

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Interim Procedures Memorandum (DHA-IPM), based on the authority of References (a) through (c), and in accordance with the guidance of References (d) through (g): • Assigns responsibilities and provides instructions for implementing Reference (d), which requires an MHA for Service members prior to separation in accordance with References (e) through (g). • Is effective immediately; it will be incorporated into DHA-Procedural Instruction xxxx.xx, “Separation History and Physical Examination.” This DHA-IPM will expire effective 12 months from the date of issue.

Women and depression

Article
10/30/2018
Mental health technicians assigned to the 48th Medical Group Mental Health Flight converse in the hospital reception area at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. The Mental Health Flight is one of many resources available to assist with depression and other mental health concerns. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Shanice Williams-Jones)

1 in every 8 women develops clinical depression during her lifetime

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Women's Health | Depression | Mental Health Care

Pilot Program on Investigational Treatment of Members of the Armed Forces for TBI and PTSD

Congressional Testimony
10/9/2018

HR 3304, NDAA for FY 2014, Sec. 704

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | Physical Disability | Mental Health Care | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

What to Expect at Your First Appointment

Video
9/20/2018
What to Expect at Your First Appointment

You’ve reached out for help, you’ve found the right provider, now Kristin Gwin from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center shares what to expect at your first appointment.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care

Kristin Gwin, Walter Reed Social Worker Talks About Getting Help

Video
9/12/2018
Kristin Gwin, Walter Reed Social Worker Talks About Getting Help

Kristin Gwin, a Social Worker at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center understands that getting help can be an intimidating process. She offers advice on how to get started by letting a professional know you want help.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Suicide Prevention

How sharing my PTSD struggles helped others—and me

Article
9/4/2018
Army Sgt. Jon Harmon lost both legs after stepping on an improvised explosive device while on a 2012 Afghanistan mission. Today he speaks to commands and veterans about his personal struggle with mental health and how he works to overcome it. (Photo by Kevin Fleming, U.S. Army Sustainment Command)

Army Sgt. Jon Harman 82nd Airborne Division, liaison officer at Walter Reed Military Medical Center

Recommended Content:

Mental Wellness | Mental Health Care | Suicide Prevention | Men's Health

DHA PI 6490.01: BH Treatment and Outcomes Monitoring

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI), based on the authority of References (a) and (b), and in accordance with the guidance of References (c) through (k): a. Establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) procedures for the collection and analysis of BH outcome data. b. Addresses how DoD will standardize BH outcome data collection to: assess variations in mental health and substance use care among in-garrison medical treatment facilities (MTFs) and clinics; assess the relationship of treatment protocols and practices to BH outcomes; and identify barriers to provider implementation of evidence-based clinical guidance approved by DoD. c. Designates the Army as the DoD lead Service for maintenance and sustainment of the Behavioral Health Data Portal (BHDP) in specialty care mental health and substance use clinics, referred to collectively as BH clinics, until BHDP functionality can be integrated with GENESIS or another electronic health record (EHR) system managed by DHA. d. Designates DHA Information Operations (J-6) as lead on transitioning BHDP functional requirements related to outcomes monitoring to future EHR data collection platforms and processes.

There is hope

Article
7/12/2018
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

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
<< < 1 2 3 4 5 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 5

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.