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NEWS | Dec. 19, 2018

Reducing holiday stress

By Maj. Ryan Kalpinski 11th Medical Group

While the holidays are often filled with joy, additional stress is also likely. Time is valuable and the added holiday shopping, parties, entertaining, and sometimes being separated from loved ones can be challenging.

If the stress becomes overwhelming, you may begin to feel sad, become disinterested in previously enjoyable activities, feel tired or have difficulty concentrating.

Stress is inevitable and our bodies are designed to face stressors with the fight or flight response. The more we take time to reduce the impact of that stress response through relaxing activities or calming practices, the more we can balance our response to stressors.

To help manage the holiday stress, first acknowledge that the holidays can be a challenging time. Second, take time to make a reasonable plan - whether it is budgeting for presents and travel or determining how many events you can attend while also allowing time for self-care. Third, make sure to pay attention to your health habits and allow for your preferred exercise plan, healthy diet and down-time for relaxation.

"If you have been feeling down for longer than two weeks, and have not bounced back to your usual self, we recommend that you consult your health care provider to discuss your treatment options," said Maj. Kendra Ekundayo, mental health provider.

In most cases, a depressed mood can improve when returning to a normal daily schedule, consistent physical activity, and increased participation in social settings or time spent on enjoyable hobbies. If you have been feeling down for longer than two weeks, consult with your health care provider to discuss your treatment options. A depressed mood is highly treatable through psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of both.

Active duty members and any TRICARE enrollees can speak with their primary care manager to discuss treatment options, which may include talking with a behavioral health consultant located in the primary care clinic. Additionally, a phone call to the behavioral health optimization program can often result in same-day availability for effective and brief consultation to get you back on track.