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Holiday health tips from the new Director of Psychological Health

Darci Thompson, the 162nd Wing's Director of Psychological Health, takes a moment to speak with an Airman during drill at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Ariz.

Darci Thompson, the 162nd Wing's Director of Psychological Health, takes a moment to speak with an Airman during drill at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Ariz. Thompson joined the unit in fall 2019 and has been seizing opportunities to introduce herself to Airmen across the wing. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Capt. Lacey Perry/Released)

MORRIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ariz. --

During my first few weeks, I have been listening in order to build my understanding of the needs of the 162nd Wing. It’s my privilege to continue the good work that has been done to support the whole Airman concept to keep the health and well-being of the entire person in mind. My goal is to continue to optimize health and well-being for all to strengthen our organization as we move forward.

Now that the holiday season is upon us, this time can keep us running with the buying and baking, travel and entertaining. Additionally, we juggle the competing demands of work and family which can leave us feeling exhausted before we even get to our special people and events.

During this time, we should be thoughtful about our time, energy, resources and budget to ensure we don’t wear out our holiday spirit. Consider the following tips as you prepare to enjoy the season:

Manage expectations-Managing not only your expectations, but the expectations of others when spending time with family and friends. There may be varying ideas about what to do and how long to do it. Everything doesn’t need to be perfect nor do they need to be set-up by you alone. Plan in advance, so you can determine what will be enjoyable for all—consider needs of babies, elders and possible boundary setting with a challenging family member.

Plan margins for self-care-This includes taking a hike, a walk, going to the gym, getting sufficient sleep, be creative through art, music, writing and other fun activities during downtime.  An investment of 30 minutes can boost your mood and help you mitigate stress reactions.

Recognize emotions-Sometimes during the holidays we can experience sadness, loneliness or irritability due to distance from loved ones, grief and loss or unexpected disappointments. Don’t ignore those emotions that you are having, they are normal natural expressions. There are people that would like to be there to encourage and support, to walk with you during that time. This might be a loved one or you can access the resources available to you through the 162nd Wing Director of Psychological Health or Chaplain’s Offices. Reach out and connect with others before the feelings are persistent and impact sleep or motivation in daily activities.

Create memories-Let go of pressure to capture all the perfect holiday selfies  Instead, select a few activities, give family and friends PRESENCE, share gratitude by volunteering, repeat meaningful traditions or begin new ones to mark the season. 

Being intentional about how you commit yourself to activities, allows you to reduce holiday stress and focus on what is important to you during this festive time of year. If you’d like to talk about ways to strengthen coping skills, please reach out and connect with our new Director of Psychological Health at 520-295-7315 Darci Thompson or the Chaplain’s office at 520-295-6217 or 520-850-9075.