PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (Dec. 13, 2022) — The cookies that military service members decorated during the “Holiday Cookie Decorating” event at the Hobson Recreation Center on Dec. 9 disappeared into their mouths almost as quickly as they made them.
Jillian Santillanez, however, victim advocate with the Presidio of Monterey Family Advocacy Program, hopes that the information she shared with them about how to combat holiday stress at the event’s beginning will last long after the holidays are over.
“Whatever you’re going home to this holiday season, I want to stress that you have a stress management plan,” Santillanez told the crowd of more than 50 service members. Santillanez organized the event with Hugo Ambriz Tena, PoM Better Opportunities for Single Service Members advisor, and it took place on a busy Friday night at the center, which is also BOSS headquarters. Most service members at PoM are students at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, and service members from all military branches attend the school.
Together, Santillanez and service members came up with a long list of activities that would help alleviate stress: going for a walk, wrestling, playing an instrument, taking a nap, journaling, meditating, going to see a movie, playing video games and “not getting married,” as one service member suggested.
Santillanez also taught service members breathing techniques and asked them to think of one person they could call or text who would provide them with support. In addition, she passed around a sheet that contained hotline numbers. “I want you to take a screen shot of this because if you don’t need this, somebody you know might need this,” she said.
Tena told service members he encourages them to visit the Hobson during the break if they are staying in Monterey. Not only will the Hobson be open throughout the break, but BOSS has 15 events planned, including a basketball free-throw contest, a trip to a go-cart center and Christmas movies, hot cocoa and snacks from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Dec. 25.
Service members said they enjoyed the event and appreciated the stress briefing.
“It’s only been 30 minutes at my first time at BOSS, but it’s been great so far,” said Army Spc. Conor O’Malley.
O’Malley said he is staying in Monterey for the break and looks forward to participating in some of the BOSS events. He also appreciated Santillanez’s succinct briefing that encouraged service members to have a strategy going into the holidays.
Army Pvt. Sarah Sitton said she had fun decorating cookies and using the art supplies that Santillanez and Tena provided.
“I’m an artist and I will never pass up the opportunity to draw,” Sitton said. “I enjoy decorating cookies because it reminds me of my sister. She loves making cookies and cakes and decorating them.”
Learning a language can be stressful, Sitton said, and it is great that the installation provides events such as “Holiday Cookie Decorating” so service members can let loose steam.
Santillanez provided the following list of resources:
“Chill Drills” is a collection of simple audio mindfulness exercises designed to relax the body and mind. The Defense Department developed these exercises for the military community, and they are available through a mobile app or the Military OneSource website. For more information, visit https://www.militaryonesource.mil/health-wellness/prevention-care/chill-drills-by-military-onesource-app/
How you are feeling – your mood – is a big factor in how satisfied you are with your life. It also impacts the quality of your relationships with others. To help you improve your mood and enjoy life more, Military OneSource offers “MoodHacker,” a free resilience tool that lets you track, understand and improve how you’re feeling. Find it at https://www.militaryonesource.mil/confidential-help/interactive-tools-services/resilience-tools/improve-your-mood-with-moodhacker/
“CoachHub” is a resilience tool from Military OneSource that gives you access to a personal online coach. It is one of several coaching solutions available to service members and their families. And unlike commercial life coaching programs, it’s free. Learn more at https://www.militaryonesource.mil/confidential-help/interactive-tools-services/resilience-tools/coachhub-a-mobile-coach-for-your-life/
Here is also a link to a Military OneSource webpage on how to keep joy in the holidays: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/health-wellness/prevention-care/keeping-joy-in-the-holidays/
PoM Domestic Violence Hotline: (831) 206-2789 (military hotline)
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: (800) 273-8255 or call 988 (this hotline is available to military and civilian)
Sexual Assault DoD Safe Helpline: (877) 995-5247 (military hotline)
RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline: (800) 656-4673 (available to military and civilian)
National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233. (available to military and civilian)
National Alliance on Mental Illness: www.nami.org (available to military and civilian)
PoM Family Advocacy Program: https://presidio.armymwr.com/programs/acs/family-advocacy or (831) 242-7653