A is for Appreciation. B is for Budget, Budget, Budget. C is for Call for Support. Commentary by: Tracy Ward, TXMF Behavioral Health Counselor

A is for Appreciation.  Appreciation is the opposite of depression.  It is difficult to be depressed and grateful at the same time.  Sincerely being grateful for what you have decreases depressing thoughts and opens the possibility for a positive mood and a smile on your face.  Take time during the holiday season to be aware of all the blessings you have around you.  Many times we take these blessings for granted or just enter in to a type of forgetfulness because the blessings have always been there.  Soldiers I have worked with in the past have shared with me how serving overseas made them realize how many blessings we take for granted in this country.  As they list things like clean water, shoes, a roof over our heads, peaceful nights and abundance of food, I realize I’ve taken those things for granted too and had stopped seeing them as blessings. During the 2014 holiday season make an intention to WAKE UP and see the blessings around you.  Train your eyes to look for hidden blessings that you may have forgotten.  Look for the good around you.  Take inventory of the good in people, in situations, in places and remind yourself that there is good in the world.  A helpful nighttime ritual is to state at least 10 blessings each night before you go to sleep.  Try to add one or two new items to your list each evening.  Making this a habit will help your sleep, decrease depressing thoughts and remind yourself how blessed you truly are. 

If, for any reason, you struggle finding good in yourself or others or struggle remembering your blessings, you may want to contact the Chaplain at 1-866-822-7685 select 7# or write ng.tx.txarng.list.txmfchaplain@mail.mil. 

B is for Budget, Budget, Budget.  Nothing can put a damper on the holidays faster that a stack of unpaid bills.  Spending outside of your means causes tremendous stress.  One way to reduce the amount of debt for this season is to create a holiday spending budget.  Know what you want to buy, for whom, and how much you want to spend. Even deciding on how much you can spend on extra holiday food and travel expenses will save you a lot of grief in January.  After you create your spending list (this is important to discuss with your significant other and get agreement) stick to the list.  A good rule of thumb is always go into a store with a list, an amount you want to spend and a time limit.  The stores want you to have: no plan, no budget, no list and a lot of extra time to look around.  The more time you browse the store or browse on-line the higher the odds of you overspending.  Buy what you need then get out of the store.  

If you need help creating a holiday budget (or any type of financial budget), contact the Soldiers For Life Transition Assistance Program (SFL-TAP) at Camp Mabry.  The financial counselors will be waiting for your call and can be reached at 512-782-5353.  Financial services are free to all TXARNG service members. 

C is for Call for Support.  The holidays can be a time of stress and loneliness.  If you find yourself stressed out, lonely, short tempered or all three, call for support.  Texas has excellent counselors that are located throughout the state to support you and your family.  These counselors are available for confidential sessions by phone, on-line or face-to-face.  They also offer a 24/7 counseling line at 512-782-5069 to support you when you have questions, concerns or just want to talk.  

Counseling services are available to all TXARNG Service Members and Family Members at no charge and are confidential.  

So to review:  A is to Appreciate all the blessings.  B is to budget your resources and C is to call for support when you need it.

And finally....Tis the Season. Remember to treat others the way you want to be treated.  The Golden Rule is always “in season.”  Have a blessed and safe holiday season.

National Hotlines:

Military Suicide Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, Text 838255

Sexual Assault: 1-800-656-4673

Substance Abuse: 1-800-662-4357

Domestic Violence: 1-800-799-7233

Child Abuse: 1-800-252-5400

Vets4Warriors: 1-855-838-8255

Army Sexual Harassment Hotline: 1-800-267-9964