Tips for Parents on Managing Holiday Stress
For many of us, the holiday season can bring an increased sense of family responsibility and, along with it, additional feelings of stress. Advertisements about the joys of the season can seem lost on us as we scurry around trying to do even more than usual. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
Unfortunately, we may turn to unhealthy stress management behaviors such as overindulging in eating or drinking to keep going. These actions don’t help and often make us feel worse. There are better, healthier and longer-lasting techniques we can use to make holiday stress—and other stressful times—more manageable.
APA suggests these tips to help parents effectively manage holiday stress
- Strengthen social connections—We know that strong, supportive relationships help us manage all kinds of challenges. So, we can view the holidays as a time to reconnect with the positive people in our lives. Accepting help and support from those who care about us can help alleviate stress.
- Initiate conversations about the season—It can be helpful to have conversations with our kids about the variety of different holiday traditions our families, friends, and others may celebrate. Parents can use this time as an opportunity to discuss how some families may not participate in the same holiday traditions as others. Not everyone needs to be the same. It is important to teach open-mindedness about others and their celebrations.
- Set expectations—It is helpful to set realistic expectations for gifts and holiday activities. Depending on a child’s age, we can use this opportunity to teach kids about the value of money and responsible spending. We need to remember to pare down our own expectations, too. Instead of trying to take on everything, we need to identify the most important holiday tasks and take small concrete steps to accomplish them.
- Keep things in perspective—On the whole, the holiday season is short. It helps to maintain a broader context and a longer-term perspective. There will be time after the holiday season to follow up or do more of things we’ve overlooked or did not have the time to do during the holidays.
- Take care of yourself—It is important that we pay attention to our own needs and feelings during the holiday season. We can find fun, enjoyable and relaxing activities for ourselves and our families. By keeping our minds and bodies healthy, we are primed to deal with stressful situations when they arise. Consider cutting back television viewing for kids and getting the family out together for fresh air and a winter walk. Physical activity can help us feel better and sleep well.