U.S. Air Force graphic by Naoko Shimoji
U.S. Air Force graphic by Naoko Shimoji

8 tips for mental wellness during the holidays

18th Wing Mental Health Clinic

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Holidays are times of enjoyment, but can also bring many stressors. The 18th Wing Mental Health Clinic offers simple, practical advice to help Airmen and their families have a safe holiday season.

Don’t forget to be kind to yourself

The holidays can be a stressful time being far away from family and friends. Take time to remember your needs before helping others. This might look like picking up that book you have always wanted to read, treat yourself to a small treat or gift, or just have some space to enjoy a solitary activity.

Sleep
It is our gateway to good health and yet nearly half of service members say they don’t get enough, according to a 2018 Dept. of Defense health-related behavior survey. Stick to a good sleep schedule when your shift changes or when you cross time zones. Make sure your room is dark, cool, and quiet to get a good night’s sleep and leave your phone in another room. 

Family
Not everyone gets along well with family members and sometimes there can be conflict. Remember to be realistic with yourself and communicate boundaries with family members. Connect with those around you. When we are far away from family, “Framily” becomes more important than ever.

Reflect
As the year ends, take this time to reflect and connect with others. Make a list of things you are grateful for, people who you love and care about, and things you have accomplished this year. Give yourself a pat on the back for building a rich and meaningful life in Japan!

Feeling lonely or isolated?
While it may be the season to come together, you are not alone. Keep an eye out for activities you can do solo or with others on the island. Holidays are a prime time for volunteering or having some time off to try something new. Check out the MCCS Okinawa Liberty App, Outdoor Recreation or an Information, Tickets & Travel (ITT) trip to try new things and meet new people.

Make a plan
Do not make a New Year’s Resolution and place extra pressure on yourself. Start making changes today, and get an accountability partner to help you stick to your plan. Goals should be specific, measureable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Start today!

Holidays came and went?
Remember that after the holidays are over, whether they were good or bad, don’t let yourself crash. Get back into a routine as soon as possible, set up a few small goals or activities to help keep you motivated and excited.

Reach out for support
Know your resources, supervisors, friends, and family. Touch base with a Military Family Life Consultant (634-3366) or chaplain (634-1288). Make an appointment with the Kadena Mental Health Clinic (DSN 634-3272). Call or walk-in to U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa Emergency Room (646-7311) or call the crisis hotline/chat website (1-800-273-TALK). For more information check out the Kadena Connect smartphone app.

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