MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- The holiday season has arrived and as Sailors and families prepare to celebrate, Navy officials have provided a standard operating procedure that can help keep the holidays merry and light.
"The holidays can be a hectic time for many," said Lt. Cmdr. Bonnie Chavez, Navy Behavioral Health Program director. "A lack of money, a lack of time, and the hype and commercialism of the season causes increased stress."
Surveys indicate people in the United States are more likely to feel their stress increase rather than decreases during the holidays, according to Chavez, who offers this advice:
* Take advantage of leave periods and relax for a few days by doing something you enjoy. Holiday stand-down periods provide flexibility for much needed rest to recover from the demands of Navy life.
* Be a good listener. Holidays are short and demands from friends and family for your attention will be high so try to give the gift of good company.
* Keep to your shopping budget. When it comes to holiday gift-giving, find creative ways to save money and remain in your budget. Racking up credit-card debt over the holidays may only cause further stress when the bills come due.
* Plan ahead and allow for plenty of time for holiday travel. Expect lines and delays in airports as the number of travelers swell. Prepare your car for road trips and know you'll be sharing the highway with higher numbers of travelers. Getting plenty of rest can make the journey less stressful and help you arrive safely.
* When tensions begin to rise, pause, take a deep breath, reflect and evaluate if the source of tension is really something that should be causing stress.
* The holidays are a time of excitement and exhaustion for young children. Overtired, over stimulated children are ripe for a stress inducing meltdown. Plan accordingly to anticipate disruptions in children's routines and exercise patience. The holidays are supposed to be merry.
* If deployment or geographic separation will keep you away from family and friends, plan your own observance upon your return or for a future date.
Chavez reminds Sailors to look out for their shipmates, too. Deployments, work-ups and separations are simply a fact of Navy life, and Sailors are good at welcoming shipmates into their homes and including them in celebrations.
"Don't underestimate the positive difference you can make by taking a little extra time to care," said Chavez. "The things you do every day to make connections, to encourage, and show people how they are valued and belong, can help in small but important ways for the people around you."
Sailors and their families can learn more methods of navigating stress from their local Fleet and Family Service Center, their command chaplain, and from www.navynavstress.com.
For more news from Navy Personnel Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/npc/.