December Chief's Concerns Published Dec. 3, 2012 By Chief Master Sgt. Kellie Gibbs 169th Medical Group MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- "Tis the season to be jolly"-but isn't that always easier said than done? While the holidays bring us many joys- family reunions, good food, thoughtful gifts- they also entail an incredible amount of stress: Family reunions can dredge up old family conflicts, the good food often requires lots of careful preparation, and holiday shopping can be a nightmare. So how can we stay grounded and present and truly let ourselves feel the holiday spirit? In avoiding stress and dealing with overindulgence, McEntire members need to be Ready, Relevant, Responsive and Resilient (The four R's). Following the four R's will ensure the Swamp Fox missions prevail. All of us must be: Ready- We must be completely prepared and in fit condition to complete the mission, assigned tasks and obligations promptly. Relevant- We must serve a useful purpose, have significant meaning, be advantageous, and helpful. Responsive-We must react quickly and favorably to any initiative. Resilient- We must be able to recover quickly, spring back and have the power to remain flexible and strong amid life's challenges. Please take time to check on your wingman to ensure he or she does not succumb to the higher levels of stress this time of year brings. Each of you is on a team, a very important team, and it is of the utmost importance to keep a check on your wingman. There are many levels of stress and it is very important to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress. The symptoms of stress might appear as mental, social and/or physical indicators. Look for signs of exhaustion, loss of/increased appetite, headaches, depression, sleeplessness and oversleeping. Additional signs of stress are feelings of alarm, frustration or apathy, increased or unusual use of alcohol or drugs and other compulsive behaviors. If you notice any of these signs, speak up and ensure your wingman receives the appropriate assistance. All of us experience some stress at one time or another. Here are some tips to avoid becoming overstressed during the holidays. 1. Plan ahead- schedule specific times for holiday preparations- shop during the least busy times or stay home and shop online, cooking, wrapping gifts, decorating, etc. 2. Stick to a budget -be clear about how much you are able to spend, make a list and stick to it. 3. Avoid overeating and overuse of alcohol. Eat, drink and be merry- within reason. Overindulgence adds to stress and guilt. 4. Ask for help- don't do everything yourself; ask someone to assist you with baking or planning family activities. 5. Rest and recharge- take time for yourself; you're no good to others when you are tired and overstressed. Get plenty of rest and sleep. By getting adequate rest you will have more energy. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year by recognizing and dealing with the signs of stress early and being smart!