West Texas VA Health Care System
Managing Stress during the holidays and beyond
Tis the season for the hustle and bustle of the holidays! As joyful as the season can be, it always seems to bring lots of undue stress. The West Texas VA Health Care System knows a thing or two about managing stress, holidays or not.
We have a variety of resources such as: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) individual and group therapy, Life Skills group, individual therapy and Health Behavioral programs. The Health Behavioral Coordinator, Marie C. Weil, Psy.D. , offers a Stress Management Program which consists of four consecutive weeks of 1 hour classes for Veterans to learn about mind-body health. It also provides information about the impact of stress on health and offers relaxation and stress management strategies.
In addition, Mental Health Services offers a Multisensory Room at the George H. O’Brien, Jr. VAMC in Big Spring, TX. Veterans can learn and apply relaxation management techniques in a relaxing, comfortable environment equipped with over 20 relaxation audio CDs & DVDs and special lighting effects. Veterans can utilize the relaxation room in conjunction with their mental health provider or can be referred by Dr. Weil or Home Based Primary Care.
Here are some tips on stress for your holiday season provided by Thomas Dawson, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist at the West Texas VA Health Care System:
• The holidays are a time of spreading good cheer, happiness, spending time with friends and family, and helping our fellow man; unfortunately to many people it just doesn’t feel that way. Unrealistic expectations, overwhelming stress and memories of those who are no longer with us can make the holiday season hard for some people. Financial and emotional strains are part of the holiday season we all share and it is important for us to know our resources and options when dealing with this stress. Sometimes just talking to a friend or loved one is a good place to start.
• If one were to feel sad, lose sleep or sleep too much, or if we notice changes in our appetites and interest/energy levels, lasting 2 weeks or more, we may be on the verge of a depressive episode. If that is the case, we need to go see our medical doctor and explain our symptoms.
• If it is less severe and merely the "holiday blues," we can do certain things such as: remember to take care of oneself-do the things we like to do. We can take a step back from the holiday hustle and bustle and refocus on being good to ourselves. If our thinking pattern is stuck on negatives: e.g., I can't afford to give the presents to my loved ones I would like to or other negative thoughts, we need to refocus our thought process and replace those negative thoughts with positive ones. Be thankful for what we do have-and everyone has something to be thankful for, if nothing else, to be alive and live in the greatest country in the world that our Veterans have made the ultimate sacrifice for! So thank a Veteran during this holiday season. Cutting down on alcohol during the holidays is always a good thing to do. Alcohol is a depressant and though drinking may initially feel like it takes away the blues, it actually only compounds depression.
In addition to these tips below are some great resources on stress management. For more information about how the West Texas VA Health Care System can help manage your stress, please call Dr. Weil at: 1-800-472-1365 Ext. 7301 or 432-263-7361 Ext. 7301.