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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Nov. 21, 2022

Tips, resources, and strategies to safely enjoy the holidays

By José R. Jasso, Jr., Employee Assistance Program manager

It’s that time of the year again. The holiday buzz is all around us. Regardless of what you do during these days or how you celebrate them, you have a choice in what you can do to manage stress, stay safe and healthy, avoid the blues, and enjoy this season. Below are some tips from CG SUPRT: 

Have realistic expectations 
While spending time with family, focus on having a meaningful--not a perfect--holiday get-together. Embrace the imperfections, quirks and individuality that give your family its unique personality and look for ways to create meaningful memories. 

If you are single, embrace the good that comes from it—take more opportunities to reflect and grow, spend quality time with friends, and enjoy having your own space. If you are newly single, it’s okay if you need to grieve the loss of a relationship. In either case, be kind to yourself and develop an attitude of gratitude instead of allowing your mind to focus on what or who may be missing in your life. 

Be Mindful of Your Feelings.

If you’re going to be around people who push your buttons, practice mindfulness. Focus your attention on what’s happening in the moment—not something that happened 10 years ago. Notice and accept any feelings that come up, but try to withhold judgment for now. 

Drink Responsibly

The holidays are usually a time of celebration; however, it’s also a time when people are likely to drink more than other times of the year. Whether celebrating with friends and family or by yourself, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends the following for adults of legal drinking age: 

  • Men – two drinks or less in a day
  • Women – one drink or less in a day 

Overall, drinking less is better than drinking more, and for some people, avoiding alcohol altogether is the best option to remain safe and healthy, and enjoy the holidays. 

Eat and Sleep Responsibly 

It’s common to gain weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Below are some suggestions to help you manage your weight while still enjoying the holidays: 

  • Make a healthy eating plan that works for you—a holiday-proof plan. If you slip up (and you probably will), use your plan to get back on track. 
  • Eat foods low in fat and calories—fruits and vegetables can take the edge off of your appetite. 
  • If you love a dish, savor a small serving, eat slowly, and make sure you count it in your plan. 
  • Keep moving. Physical activity can help minimize the holiday weight gain and reduce the holiday stress. Even a simple walk after a meal can provide benefits.
  • Aim for seven to eight  hours of sleep. A lack of sleep makes it more difficult to manage your overall health, and you are more likely to eat high-fat and high-sugar foods. 

Spend Sensibly

During the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to maintain some costly holiday traditions. The cost of traveling to see friends and family, boundless gift giving, and hosting the most festive holiday party can quickly add up. Shopping deals, discounts, and advertisements also heightens the pressure and can lead to overspending and holiday debt.

Below are some tips to keep the joy in the holidays and mitigate the financial stress that comes from this season: 

  • Review your financial situation and decide upfront how much you will spend during this season. 
  • Make a budget, resist the temptation to splurge, and stick to it. Develop a sensible spending plan. 
  • Be flexible and get creative with your shopping. Be willing to cut your gift list, find alternatives to purchased gifts, and/or look for bargains. 
  • Pay with cash or with debit card. If you use credit, pay the bill in full quickly to avoid large interest payments. 
  • Track your holiday spending to ensure that you stay within your limits and to pre-determine next year’s holiday expenses. 
  • Start saving now for next year so you will have the cash for your expenses; this can help you have a debt-free future holiday. 

If these financial strategies sound difficult and you need help with keeping your finances in order, not only during this holiday season but year-round, please contact your local personal financial managers (PFM), your unit’s command financial specialist (CFS), or a CG SUPRT Money Coach.

Stay Safe during the Holidays

The holidays are usually a time of friends and family reunions and enjoying each other’s company; however, for people in abusive relationships, these days can be more stressful and dangerous, since the abusers are more likely to drink and/or do drugs and have more opportunities to be home alone with their victims. To learn more about safety planning for the holidays, whether you are a victim/survivor or are worried about someone who is a victim of abuse and don’t know what to do about it, please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website or call 1-800-799.SAFE (7233). 

Having the holiday blues is also common during the holidays and can lead to unhealthy and risky behavior including thoughts of suicide. If you are thinking about suicide or hurting yourself, please visit the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline website or call or text 988 to be connected to trained counselors for free and confidential emotional support; it’s available 24/365.  


We really hope the upcoming holidays serve to revitalize you. If you wish to learn more about the tips mentioned above, we invite you to visit and explore our CG SUPRT website. If you find yourself or a loved one struggling this holiday season, you may also call CG SUPRT at 1-855-247-8778 to get connected with a professional counselor; these services are free, confidential and available by phone 24/365. Alternatively, you may also contact one of the Health, Safety and Work-Life (HSWL) representatives found on the HSWL website