• Counselor Corner

Parenting Tips to Manage Holiday Stress

The holidays can be a busy and stressful time, especially for parents. The hustle and bustle of buying and wrapping presents, cooking, and entertaining loved ones can sometimes feel a bit too much; and even more so during this challenging time. Here are some of my favorite tips from around the web to help parents to manage stress so that the holidays can be fun and fulfilling for you and your entire family:

  • Be open to change. Discuss with your family their favorite holiday traditions and some of the changes that may take place this year as a result of social distancing and/or quarantining. This may include holiday gatherings or getting together with extended family. Discuss ways to continue these traditions in a Covid-friendly way.

  • Prep your kids for changes. Holidays represent a change in a family’s normal schedule, and for some kids that’s unsettling. Preparing them for changes in their routines — what to expect and what you expect of them—will help head off meltdowns, which will obviously lead to increased stress.

  • Set your priorities. Ask yourself what traditions or holiday activities have the most impact and which ones create too much stress. Keep those that are meaningful and forgo the ones that leave you feeling overly exhausted by January. Remember it is okay to say "no" to the things that you just can't handle this year.

  • Take shortcuts. Find a way to simplify things. Maybe you only send cards to those with whom you have regular communication or you decide that this year you will only send gifts to family members rather than buying for everyone in your friendship circle. When it comes to baking, you might decide to buy goodies from the bakery or a pre-made dinner from a local restaurant.

  • Accept Imperfections. When it comes to holidays, many of us set the bar too high. We tell ourselves that we need to have to have the perfect gathering, decorations, holiday meal, or presents fo our children. When things don't turn out the way you had hoped, give yourself some grace. We are living in a very imperfect world right, so allow yourself to not be perfect during this challenging time.

  • Stick to a budget. For many, COVID-19 has led to financial challenges for many families. Decide how much money you can afford to spend and stick to it. Don't buy happiness with an overabundance of gifts. This year, you may decide to

  • Donate to a charity in someone's name.

  • Give homemade gifts.

  • Start a family gift exchange.

  • Plan ahead. Make a schedule that includes specific days to do holiday shopping, grocery shopping, or connecting with friends.

  • Just breathe. When you start to notice yourself feeling stressed or anxious. Step back. Remove yourself from what is triggering your stress. Just breathe. Merely stopping to take a few deep, cleansing breaths can reduce your level of negative stress in a matter of minutes, too. If you visualize that you are breathing in serenity and breathing out stress, you will find the positive effects of this exercise to be even more pronounced.

  • Don't abandon healthy habits. It is very easy to lose sight of healthy habits during the holidays. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Have a healthy snack before holiday meals so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.

  2. Eat healthy meals.

  3. Get plenty of sleep.

  4. Include regular physical activity in your daily routine.

  5. Try deep-breathing exercises, meditation or yoga.

  6. Avoid excessive tobacco, alcohol and drug use.

  7. Be aware of how the information culture can produce undue stress, and adjust the time you spend reading news and social media as you see fit.

  • Seek professional help. If you find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. It is important to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your family.

I hope that you find these tips to be helpful. Remember, when you are less stressed your family is happier, which makes for a happy holiday!


How to Take the Stress Out of the Holidays

Understanding and Managing Holiday Stress

Mindful Tips to Destress this Holiday Season

Stress Management: The Mayo Clinic

As always, do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions and/or concerns about your child's social or emotional well-being.

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