By Staff Sgt. Russ Scalf
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The holiday season is finally at hand. Over the next few weeks members of Team Little Rock will place their email accounts on autopilot, take a break and spend time with friends and loved ones.
For many, as the song goes, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Yet others have a difficult time managing the various stressors that can accompany the festivities. Utilizing a few concepts everyone is already familiar with can help one not only survive the holidays, but thrive.
This time of year is never lacking for social engagements. From squadron parties, to grandmother’s house we go, you should always go with a plan. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, each year the number of alcohol-related highway fatalities spikes dramatically over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
“Over the last two years, 75 percent of holiday season fatalities are private-motor-vehicle related,” said James Yowell, the ground safety manager for the 314th Airlift Wing. “When hosting a party, as a host you have responsibilities to protect your guests,” he said.
Yowell went on to say being a responsible host includes things like providing food, non-alcoholic beverages, sleeping arrangements or a sober designated driver to get them home. Another tip he provided was to cut off access to alcohol about two hours before the end of your party. Yowell said that if you take those steps you can reduce the likelihood of an accident by about 90 percent.
“As individuals we’re responsible to make a plan and stick to it,” said Yowell. “If that plan fails, get help, call a friend who hasn’t been drinking or Airmen Against Drunk Driving, anything besides getting behind the wheel. This is a season for happiness, we should all do our part to make sure everyone gets home safely.”
The holiday season can present a multitude of ups and downs, but your waist measurement doesn’t have to be one of them. Remember that it’s ok to say no to mom’s cookies, and dad could probably use a lap around the neighborhood to look at lights with you.
“You’re going to be out of your normal element, so make sure you’re at least getting up and moving around,” said Aaron Leach, a Little Rock Air Force Base physiologist. “Whether you’re stuck in an airport, a hotel, or you’re stuck at your in-laws, get up and move around. The holidays can be pretty stressful, so instead of choosing destructive coping methods try dealing with it in a healthy way. You can find a gym, go out for a run, or in my case I’ll be making couch forts and having pillow fights with my kids.”
There can also be great demands on our time and agendas during the holidays. Whether you’re traveling from Arkansas to Albany, or making the decision to stay in the local area this year, its important to take some time for yourself and maintain your spiritual fitness.
“I would encourage individuals to exercise their spiritual fitness and faith,” said chaplain Maj. Randall Jamieson, a 19th Airlift Wing chaplain. “Its important to exercise your faith and attend worship services. I would also encourage people to spend time with their family and friends as much as they’re able to, but look for other sources of support if they’re unable to make it home. It’s a time for reflection, a time to re-evaluate and look for inspiration and peace.”
If you find yourself struggling to find the perfect gift or feel like somebody forgot to put you on his or her list, you’re not alone. It would be easy to fill a stocking with all of the expectations we put on others and ourselves during the holidays.
If you feel like you need someone to talk to, one source might be the military family life counselor at the Airman and Family Readiness Center. The MFLC can provide a confidential consultation by a licensed therapist to any active-duty Airman or their dependents. The Little Rock Air Force Base MFLC reports that stress around the holidays is a common occurrence, and that everyone has stress, but it’s how you handle that stress that is unique.
“Stress can actually be a good thing, but when you become overwhelmed by it, can’t breathe, and can no longer function or sleep adequately, that is the time to see someone about it,” said Sharon Thompson, chief of the Airman and Family Readiness Center. “Just because it’s a holiday it doesn’t necessarily mean you should be happy, and that expectation can be an additional stressor. One tip to relieve stress is to take your shoes off and curl your toes on the carpet. When you are able to reconnect with your body and senses, your brain has to switch modes, and it acts as a temporary stress reliever.”
If you would like additional resources, visit the Air Mobility Command Comprehensive Airman Fitness link at http://www.amc.af.mil/caf/.