AFMC Command News

Give permission to feel over holidays

  • Published
  • By Daryl Mayer, AFLCMC Public Affairs

“Just because there's a song that says it's the most wonderful time of the year, give yourself permission to have whatever it is you're experiencing.  It’s going to come, and it's going to go, but trying to get rid of it might keep you stuck in it,” said Maj. Aaron Esche, clinical psychologist, at the Wright-Patterson Medical Center. 
He and Maj. Carlos Salazar, also with the Mental Health Clinic, talked about dealing with stress over the Holiday season on a recent episode of AFLCMC’s Leadership Log podcast.   

The conversation started taking note of the letter to Airmen recently sent by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr.  In it, Brown mentioned being “heartbroken” by the reports of suicide that cross his desk. 
Esche and Salazar recommended good wingmen need to take a direct approach to lend a hand using the ACE model, where A=Ask, C=Care and E=Escort.
“It’s not an easy question to ask, but it is an important one to ask,” Salazar said of asking someone if he is planning to commit suicide.  “It's probably worth having an awkward question asked, than to regret something later.” 
They acknowledged the holidays bring unique stressors such as budgeting for gifts, missing loved ones or even scheduling visits home.  However, Esche suggested considering the second, third or fourth levels of stress. 
“So I'm stressed out about having to go to see my in-laws, for example, but then that stress generates maybe a little bit less sleep, or it generates some annoyance at myself for being stressed out about it,” Salazar said.   “Maybe I feel guilty that I am stressed out, and that I'm annoyed because of Christmas, and some people don't even have a family to celebrate with and having to choose between two families. What kind of person am I?” 
These thoughts can lead to a spiral of poor sleep, poor diet, lack of exercise or routine, etc.  
“I’m anxious or I’m feeling depressed and I think I shouldn’t feel that way.  I get all this messaging that these aren’t like normal feelings, even though that’s absolutely part of the human condition to worry or feel sad,” Esche said.  “And the way we can change our relationship with that is just give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you are feeling.  It's a fact that no feeling or thought that anyone has ever had has lasted for forever, and it will go away.”
 To hear the full conversation, you can watch Leadership Log on YouTube at  You can also listen by searching “Leadership Log” on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Overcast, Radio Public or Breaker.