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Home Alone: Holidays in the era of COVID

The 2nd Bomb Wing headquarters building is laden with snow after a winter storm on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Feb. 25, 2015.

The 2nd Bomb Wing headquarters building is laden with snow after a winter storm on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Feb. 25, 2015. This graphic was created as a title page for "Home Alone: Holidays in the era of COVID". (U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Jacob B. Wrightsman)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- As the hustle and bustle of the holiday season builds, so can the stress of the season. Throw a wild card like COVID-19 into the mix and the times can be a lot to handle, but there is no need to handle it alone.

With the help of base agencies, Airmen and families will always have the help and support from their Air Force family to ensure a jolly end to this crazy year.

“2020 is a year many of us would like to put in the rear-view mirror-- COVID, hurricanes and a host of items that have kept us from our network of family and friends,” said Col. Mark Dmytryszyn, 2nd Bomb Wing commander. “I want to let all Strikers of the Mighty Deuce, the Long Rangers, and the wider Striker Nation know how proud I am of their professional performances all year- global power, compete and deter, NSI and so much more- and I hope all can spend some well-deserved time together with the knowledge that you have the full support of the Barksdale family in increasing your resiliency.”

Between the shopping, the baking and traveling in the era of COVID, all while putting on the uniform and defending the American way of life day-in and day-out, the holiday season can be a lot for Airmen and their families. Barksdale’s mental health team wants to ensure that the holidays and all the stress that comes with it can be managed and dealt with in a healthy way.

“We all have stressors in our lives and a lot of the time people work really hard to be stress-free,” said Capt. Alex J. Purring, 2nd Operational Medical Readiness Squadron mental health psychologist. “Really, what we should be focusing on is that stress is always going to be a constant variable in our lives. What we can do is learn to recover from stress and then learn how to better manage those stressors.”

Purring says a good way to manage stress is to keep up on sleep, diet and exercise, and if the stress becomes too much to manage, Barksdale’s mental health team is always ready to help.

While mental health is important, spiritual health is an equally important piece of the puzzle, and Barksdale has a helping agency for that too.

The base chapel is always available for Airmen who need help finding a religious service or simply just want to talk to a chaplain.

“The way forward for any stressful time is being connected to the bigger picture,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Matthew Campbell, 2nd Bomb Wing chaplain. “Ask yourself: what do I believe in, or what truths am I holding onto that are sustaining me through these times.For a lot of people, the answer is going to be a deep spirituality or belief in God.”

The chapel is also holding various religious holiday services for Airmen and families who would like to attend.

With COVID causing changes to plans and family gatherings, the chapel encourages those who may be feeling alone this holiday season to reach out and find someone to spend time with.

“I would encourage Airmen to not be alone,” Campbell said. “Just ask around, find a place to go to share a meal with friends or coworkers just to be with people because we definitely can do that within the COVID guidance.”

When it comes to the holidays in the era of COVID, no one is alone. With all the craziness that has ensued in the past year, Airmen and their families can always turn to their Barksdale family to make this season a happy one.

“When it comes to COVID, we are all in this together,” Purring said. “So, keep an ear to the ground and utilize what is being offered around base, because there’s a lot of people who are all in the same boat.”

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