By Maya Yegorova
The arrival of the holidays is synonymous with shopping for gifts in packed malls, taking part in activities like caroling and sledding, and picking out the perfect tree. While in a perfect world, one would celebrate the holiday season in the company of loved ones, it’s understandable that the holidays can be a stressful and lonely time for the military community. Here are three ways the military community can retain the holiday magic and have an unforgettable season in challenging times.
Take Time For Yourself
Incorporating a hobby that you enjoy into your schedule alleviates stress and boosts your happiness levels. Staying engrossed in one task means you’re not actively checking your phone, and a screen break fights self-comparison.
“If my family is not together, I try to stay off social media because it can mess with your mind. Find something that you like to do, like taking a spa day,”says Erica Gunn, a Marine Corps spouse.
Not only can military spouses take time to pursue an activity that brings them joy, they can do quick self check-ins to gauge their well-being.
“Do what is best for you and what is the best for your family right now. Do what suits your needs at the moment,” Ashley Perry, an Army spouse, adds.
Let Go of Conventional Rules
It’s not about the day, but how you celebrate the holiday.
“Just be flexible as possible. You don’t have to get caught up on celebrating Christmas on December 25th, and you can let go of the rigid expectations set in stone,” Navy spouse Hailey Brindamour suggests.
Brindamour is no stranger to making the most of the season as a military spouse, and there is a specific memory that she remembers fondly.
“Before we had our daughter, my husband was deployed and I was in San Diego. My parents came down, and we went to an organ concert in downtown San Diego,” she says.
Focus On Experiences
If your loved ones are home for the holidays and have a limited amount of time before they are set to leave for their next military assignment, there is a way to ensure smiles all around. Kimberly Moore, an Army spouse, offers a great suggestion on how to make the holidays memorable.
“The best gift you can give is experience. I like to give trip gifts, like going sledding or visiting a botanical garden. It’s fun to do it together because you miss out on a lot of memories as a military spouse,” she says.
Taking the planning and stress out of a normally jam packed day, can be its own gift!
Kristen Ponsell, an Army spouse, also explains that she has an experience-focused family. Ponsell describes how the military community can make the Christmas season memorable for children.
“We always decorate! The day after Thanksgiving, we put up the Christmas tree. We do different things throughout the month, like baking cookies and seeing Santa,” she says.
At a time in which feelings of isolation may arise, it’s important to prioritize your mental wellness. As the year draws to a close, active duty military spouses can treat themselves to the impactful gift of confidence earned from a mentorship. American Corporate Partners is a nationwide nonprofit organization that pairs active-duty military spouses with mentors from over 110+ Fortune 500 companies. It’s a free, year-long mentoring program, and over 25,000 alumni have completed this program. Interested spouses can apply through this link: https://www.acp-usa.org/spouseapp.