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Alaska Behavioral Health offers tips for military families far from home this holiday season

Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 3:13 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Service members of the U.S. military are spread out around the country and around the globe. Given the upcoming holiday season and the many restrictions on travel due to the pandemic, that can be tough. In an effort to help those who serve, the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Alaska Behavioral Health has published some tips and tricks this year to mitigate feelings of isolation.

Number one: send care packages. While presents are always great, holiday cookies or a treat that reminds the recipient of home can sometimes mean more.

Secondly, send notes or messages designed to be opened at specific times or in specific circumstances.

Their third tip is to watch movies together. Though families can be far apart physically you can, with technology, start a movie at the same time and watch it while you video chat or while you are on the phone in an effort to enjoy a shared experience.

Fourth, plan a virtual gift exchange. This one can take some planning as everyone who will be involved needs to have their present in hand when you begin the exchange.

Fifth, record a message or sing a song and send it off to those you can’t be with during the holiday season.

Clinic Director MaryBeth Goodman also included a few extra nuggets of advice. She says breaking down the screen barrier can make a big difference.

“Our senses are so important right? We see the world, we smell the world, we touch the world, we feel it or we taste it. Around the holidays that’s amplified so if cooking with my grandmother was always part of what I did growing up and I am going to miss that this year maybe she and I are going to have the same grocery shopping list and instead of buying her a present I might order her a curbside pick up of her favorite pumpkin pie recipe so that we can cook that together,” Goodman said. “Then what that translates into is I am touching the dough, I am smelling the cinnamon, and she is having those same exact experiences and even though it’s not in her kitchen I am transported there because my senses are awakened.”

Goodman also mentioned multigenerational activities that engage everyone involved as well as activities for single people or people living alone.

If you are a military member who needs to speak to a mental health professional for any reason, you can contact the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Alaska Behavioral Health by calling (907) 762-8668.

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