Watch FAT during the holidays

  • Published
  • By Michelle Sanders
  • Family Advocacy Intervention Specialist
When you hear the word fat, many people think of the body and physical fitness. Now I want you to think about self-care and emotional health: Feelings, Actions and Thoughts. 

These are three main areas that need your attention not just during the holidays, but daily. The holidays bring stress to the surface due to the expectations attached to them by the media, community, family and yourself. 

Often we do too much or too little during these hectic times. We are overwhelmed with parties and demands on our time or we withdraw like a turtle into our shell with thoughts of woulda, coulda, shoulda during this time of year. 

Let's take a brief look at these three areas and work to paint a picture of balance for you and your loved ones. 

Feelings -- Feelings are like road signs. They give us information about our choices, behavior and our environment. Think about fear. It is designed to warn us of possible danger. Sadness may let us know when we have unmet emotional needs or that we have lost something important. 

Most feelings help us, even anger. It is not the feeling that is bad; it is what we decide to do with it that counts. Feelings in general help you to get your needs met and keep you safe. Be careful to satisfy your emotional, physical and spiritual needs in healthy ways. 

It is important to respond to your feelings in safe ways. If you try to avoid feelings, it can be more stressful in the long run. 

You can talk to a trusted friend, journal, do something in honor of a deceased loved one, spend some time in reflection or even seek professional assistance. Face natural feelings and often they dissipate rather quickly. Avoid them and they can get worse. 

At times we may make choices to avoid feelings that result in more trouble. Drinking too much can result in behaviors that we regret. Arguing with loved ones can result in words that can never be taken back. 

Actions -- Your personality will probably lend itself to do the holidays really big or to try and forget they exist. The middle ground is a good place to be in order to avoid distress later in the game. 

Watch overbooking and under booking activities. Know your limit and honor it. It is okay to say no to some social gatherings. If you have a tendency to isolate, make a goal to attend a few social gathering for a certain period of time. Be careful about overspending, overeating and binge drinking. Making a plan ahead of time always helps. 

Enjoy holiday traditions that give you pleasure. Maybe it's watching "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" and drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows on top or maybe it's checking out the neighborhood holiday lights and inflatable figures. Discover your own holiday adventures. 

Thoughts -- There are many unrealistic expectations about the holidays: You should be happy. You have to find the perfect gift. You must fit into a size three dress for the Christmas party. If you don't have a girlfriend then you are a loser. 

Watch your thoughts. If there is a must, should, or have to in your thought, then challenge it. Analyze thoughts and make sure they are realistic. You are your hardest critic. Give yourself a break and make sure that your expectations are realistic. 

Feelings, actions and thoughts influence each other. Changing your thoughts changes your feelings which in turn influence your behavior. Work to analyze your thoughts, challenge unrealistic expectations and you will feel differently and make healthier choices. 

There is help available when you get stuck. Working with an outsider is helpful because they are an objective observer that can help you see things in a new way. Remember your resources on base: Mental Health and Family Advocacy at 213-7419, Chaplains at 213-7211, the Military Life Consultant at 478-6449, the Airman and Family Readiness Center at 213-6330 and the Military One Source at 1-800-342-9647.