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How to fight the holiday blues

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rebecca Van Syoc
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

The winter and holiday season can create a wide variety of feelings in people: such as joy, warmth and generosity. While the holidays are celebrated by some as a time of giving and cheer, it can bring feelings of loneliness and depression in others.

For some Airmen, especially those who are spending the holiday season away from family and friends, these feelings have the possibility of negatively impacting their work and personal life; this condition is sometimes known as holiday depression.

“Not everyone may be excited or happy over the holiday season,” said Capt. Bermsoo Kim, 7th Bomb Wing chaplain. “For some people, it can bring painful memories or awkward encounters with friends and family, if someone’s even able to visit family at all.”

 “People who are going through family, financial and relationship issues are more likely to experience seasonal or holiday depression,” Kim said. “It’s also more likely in people who are unable to be with loved ones over the holidays, such as deployed Airmen.“

According to the base chapel, holiday depression is most prevalent in Airmen who are unable to go home for the holiday season or those who have experienced recent major life changes. To ensure Airmen are taken care of, there are many avenues and resources available for them.

“You can always contact your first sergeant and supervisor to get connected with other holiday meals and gatherings,” Kim said. “The Soul Fire Café will also be open for Airmen who would like a place to share their holidays with others.”

Airmen are also encouraged to utilize the four domains of Comprehensive Airmen Fitness in dealing with personal hardships such as holiday depression. These domains include physical, mental, spiritual and social forms of improving personal resiliency.

According to the Mental Health America of Wisconsin, some things people can do to help avoid or alleviate holiday season depression and stress include:

  • Focus more on the year ahead than the year behind; self-improvement can always be a goal to move towards
  • Set realistic expectations for yourself in your goals
  • Volunteer or reach out to others who need help
  • Take time for yourself to recharge and relax; don’t be afraid to reach out to others

Though Airmen have personal resources and tools to help themselves, it’s equally important to be a good Wingman and look out for warning signs if someone is experiencing difficulties over the holiday season.

The motto from the Defense National Suicide Prevention Office is, “#BeThere.” The prevention office states that giving help doesn’t have to be complicated or extensive, but what matters the most is offering a listening ear or simply the presence of a person who cares about them. By doing so, Airmen support the collective resiliency for the U.S. Air Force as a whole.

Airmen who are experiencing difficulties and need help are encouraged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), Mental Health at (325) 696-5380 or the Dyess Chapel at (325) 696-4224 (after-hours access to the Chapel staff can be reached through Base Operations at (325) 696-1921).