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Easing Holiday and Reintegration Stress

service member reaching out for care

Photo by Staff Sgt. Tomora Clark

The holidays can be a great time to reconnect with your loved ones, but they may also be difficult. If you are returning home from a deployment, the holidays may seem more overwhelming than usual. This can especially be the case if you are coping with invisible wounds.

Remember that reconnecting with loved ones is an important part of the reintegration process. Spending time with them may even benefit your health in the long-term.

Reconnect with Loved Ones

It is common to feel and act differently when you return home from deployment. It’s possible that your friends and family have changed as well, and that’s okay. While you may want to be alone, being around family and friends can help strengthen your support network and boost your physical and psychological health.

Use these tips to help you reconnect:

  • Find your comfort zone. Decide what you feel comfortable talking about at family gatherings or holiday events. It is okay to remove yourself from a conversation if you start to feel uncomfortable.
  • Share moments with loved ones. Do activities together like hiking, watching a movie or ice skating. Use the time together to grow closer and consider sharing your experiences.
  • Continue holiday traditions. Ideas include music, dancing, decorating and holiday lights.
  • Balance your time. It’s easy to jam-pack your schedule during the holidays. Down-time with loved ones is important too! Try to not overcommit yourself as it could create unneeded stress.
  • Keep realistic expectations. Holidays often come with high expectations. There may be pressure that everything needs to be perfect. Keep your expectations realistic and do what you can.

Connect with Fellow Warriors

Your fellow warriors can relate to what you have experienced. Speaking with others who have deployed may help ease the stress of returning and getting used to daily life back at home.

Try to:

Make Your Health a Priority

Taking care of yourself can help balance life’s demands during the holiday season. If you are experiencing signs of post-deployment stress, it is important to share these concerns with a health care provider. Seeking care early from a provider can lead to successful and positive health outcomes.

Some smart ways to care for yourself include:

  • Track how you are feeling and any coping methods. Share what works and what doesn’t with your provider.
  • Keep a balanced lifestyle. Make sure to eat the right foods to fuel your body and limit substance use, like alcohol - even if you are attending a holiday event.
  • Practice ways to ease tension in a healthy way. Try yoga or mindfulness meditation.

Reaching out is a sign of strength. If you or a loved one needs additional support this holiday season, contact the Psychological Health Resource Center to confidentially speak with a trained health resource consultant 24/7, call 866-966-1020 or use the Real Warriors Live Chat. You can also visit our "Seek Help, Find Care” page to see a list of key psychological health resources.

Additional Resources

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