The holidays are typically a time for family fun and appreciation. This makes being separated from your spouse during the holiday season tough. The good news is there are resources and people available that can support you along the way. With the right attitude and tools, you can make the most of the holiday season, even while your spouse is deployed.
Here are some helpful tips for tackling the holidays when your spouse is deployed:
1. Take time for yourself.
As easy as it may be to get lost in the stress and commotion of this military holiday season, taking time to do something for yourself is important. Whether you want to binge-watch your favorite show on Netflix, take a walk with your dog, or take a long, hot bath, allowing yourself to let go of the uncontrollable and relax in the present will help you deal with situations and emotions as they come.
2. Keep up with family traditions.
This one is especially important for families with young children. Children may not fully understand what is going on when a parent is deployed during the holidays. Keep their spirits up and their association with the holidays positive by carrying out all your family traditions that you would normally take part in. Invite friends or loved ones over to partake in the holiday fun so that you can facilitate a festive experience for your kids.
3. Connect and spend time with family members and friends.
Call on your support system. Surrounding yourself with loved ones will help to fill your holiday season with joy. Arrange casual potlucks, go on coffee dates with friends, make regular phone calls - whatever helps you stay connected with the ones you love. This will also signal to your friends and family that you are looking to be more involved which may result in invites to more parties, events, and other holiday-related functions.
4. Embrace a hobby.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn about? An activity that’s always seemed fun or interesting? Now is the time to embrace a new hobby. Explore your creative side or tap into your athletic potential. This is your opportunity to express yourself and perhaps spark a lifelong passion.
5. Join a community.
There are plenty of resources available to both you and your spouse within the military community and outside of it. By no means are you alone in this unfavorable military holiday circumstance. Explore your options when it comes to joining a community and making military friends.
Often times, spouses of servicemembers form groups that act as support systems during deployment. Connecting with those in a similar situation can help you feel supported and understood. There are also communities available in and around your neighborhood. For example, joining a weekly yoga class can help you form new relationships that can blossom into friendships.
6. Find creative ways to connect.
Ideally, you would be able to spend the holidays with your spouse. But while they’re on deployment, doing your best with what you have will help you to feel as connected to each other as possible. If Skype or Facetime is available to you, organize your family traditions so that your spouse can be a part of them. If phone calls are an option, utilize this resource often. If you have more limited, unpredictable means of communication, send your spouse a letter or military holiday care package ahead of time and instruct them to open it during the holiday season.
7. Stay positive.
Embracing an attitude of gratitude is one of the most effective ways to boost your mood and stay positive about any situation. This is especially important when it is easy to focus on only the negatives that come with military holidays. Keep a gratitude journal and practice writing down the things you are grateful for this holiday season. When you start to feel lonely or stressed, refer to your journal to help bring you back to your positive state. Of course, it’s normal and okay to feel sad, but having a tool to minimize these feelings can be valuable.
The holiday season can seem extra daunting when your spouse is deployed. Receiving support from external sources as well as making small lifestyle changes can arm you with the tools you need to cope. Staying busy, staying positive, and taking time for yourself can help you not only get through the holiday season, but enjoy it with the ones you love.