Thursday, December 23, 2010

VA Awareness of Services During the Holiday Season

Awareness of Services During the Holiday Season

WASHINGTON -- The holidays are a traditional time of joy, laughter and
sharing with family and friends. They are also a time of remembrance of
past celebrations and anticipation of family gatherings.

While the holiday season is often experienced as a season for
celebration and giving thanks, for many, the holidays may bring
loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress. As the holidays approach,
we encourage you to think about how you take care of yourself during
this time. As a Veteran or a family member or caregiver for a Veteran,
you are never alone; our caring professional counselors are just a phone
call away at 1-800-273-8255.

Below are some tips to help you cope with the stress, anxiety and
depression that can be brought on by the holiday season:

Pace yourself: This time of year can be a joyful occasion but also hard
on relationships and the pocketbook. Be aware of your financial
situation, so you know what you can afford when it comes to gift-giving
and travel. Plan ahead to avoid surprises.

Plan it out: Write lists to prioritize and schedule. Writing things down
often helps you to keep everything organized during a stressful and busy

Take care of yourself: The holidays are for gathering with loved ones,
but keep in mind it is a time for rest as well. Watch your diet and
limit alcohol use whenever possible. Prioritize holiday activities and
avoid those that have caused stress in the past. Most of all, stay
healthy and active. For an exercise strategy, see VA's MOVE program,

Be of service to others: Instead of buying something, you can provide a
service for someone or volunteer your efforts as a gift. Visit a
Veteran who may not have family. Help those in need by volunteering at
a homeless shelter or food pantry. Do something for someone else who
needs it. Focusing on others for a time and doing some good can help
fight the 'holiday blues'. For opportunities to give back to Veterans
for their service, see

Ask for help: If you continue to feel depressed, anxious or stressed, do
not be afraid to seek help. Remember, our caring professional
counselors are always just a phone call away at 1-800-273-8255. We also
have online chat capabilities at

You can also call your local VA medical center to speak with your health
care team. You can also contact the main social work office of the
medical center to get assistance. Find your local VA medical center at

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