As the 2023 holiday season rapidly approaches, it's important to keep in mind that for some, this time of year can be challenging. While there will be those who will enjoy celebrations, and quality time spent with family and friends, for others, the holidays can bring financial stress, loneliness, and depression.
We wanted to take a moment to provide invaluable resources for those struggling during the holidays, so that we not only look out for our shipmates, but also ourselves.
Tune in to your own health and wellness and that of your loved ones. Be aware of prolonged feelings of irritability, anger, sadness, difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating, increased use of alcohol, or difficulty making decisions in yourself, your children, family, friends, and shipmates.
The best way to manage stress, find peace, and experience moments of joy is through active self-care. Maintain your resilience by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting restful sleep. Be mindful of alcohol consumption, and if you choose to drink, follow the low-risk guidelines adopted by the Coast Guard.
Find support from a partner, family member, friend, counselor, online group, or clergy. Be deliberate about connecting socially by spending time with friends and loved ones, in person or virtually. Understand that you may experience sadness or a sense of loss, and that connecting with others can remind us that we are not alone. Be mindful of and look after your shipmates, especially those that may be displaced from their homes for the holidays.
It’s also important to make smart money decisions to avoid overspending. Remember to plan and budget for holiday expenses and resist the temptation to splurge on gifts, sales, or special events.
Take time each day to practice gratitude by focusing on all that you are thankful for and think of creative ways to honor traditions.
Keep your celebrations simple. Do not put added pressure on yourself to host or travel to large elaborate events. Consider budget-friendly gifting and entertaining to reduce added financial stress.
If you find yourself or a loved one having trouble this holiday season, support is always available. CG SUPRT offers a variety of services, including free and confidential supportive counseling, and is available 24/7/365 by calling 1-855-247-8778 (International: Enter your international code +855-247-8778). You can also contact one of the Health, Safety and Work-Life (HSWL) representatives found on the HSWL website at: https://www.dcms.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Human-Resources-CG-1/Health-Safety-and-Work-Life-CG-11/Office-of-Work-Life-CG-111/
These services are available to active-duty members, reservists, civilian employees, and family members.
Another resource comes from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, where individuals can learn about the disease of addiction, how it impacts families, and healthy ways of coping. To learn more about the free Family Program, visit https://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/treatment/family-children/family-program
Finally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 988 or https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Support is always available - do not hesitate to ask for help!