Suggestions To Reduce Holiday Stress Named
The hustle and bustle of the holidays does not just affect parents, but children are affected as well. Routines are often thrown to the wayside and extra demands are placed on time in the race to accomplish the many tasks required to make the holidays happen. These are hectic days for sure and can easily lead to stress overload for kids and parents alike.
Why are the holidays so stressful? Well, because they present a change in daily routine and expectation that is very different from other times during the year. Even though parents may not realize it, kids are sensitive to change and whether that change is positive or negative, it still creates stress.
Stress is contagious. Kids notice when parents are not themselves and it causes uneasiness and worries. So, mitigating your own stress during the holidays will help kids to not only stay mentally healthy, but physical healthy too.
The brain-body connection is intertwined and when the brain is affected by stress and worries the body will show signs of misalignment as well. When kids do not get the proper sleep or nutrition, it affects their emotional well-being. Kids can develop stomach aches, headaches, and even experience a racing heart from being over stressed. The holidays are prime time for kids to eat unhealthy and stay up way too late. Once in a while is not such a bad thing, but keeping to normal routines and limiting holiday treats is best.
But, how is it possible to meet all the demands of the holidays and keep your mind off holiday worries? Being proactive is one of the best ways to alleviate stress before it happens. Discuss changes the holidays bring about and create a plan with kids ahead of time. It is empowering for kids to be active participants in creating a plan when it comes to stress and anxiety, not just during the holidays but anytime. Put up a family calendar for the month and discuss with them what to expect. Being organized really pays off during the holidays not just in accomplishing tasks but also in relieving anxiety. Once the plan is in place, practice it! This way when changes happen, kids know more what to expect and have a well-rehearsed tool kit to choose from.
By maintaining a positive outlook during the holidays, being prepared, and taking time to relax, you can glide through the holidays and have fun as well1
Below are seven suggestions to give kids the tools needed to enjoy the holidays.
1. Try to keep routines as close to normal as possible. Kids that are well rested and have regular mealtimes help them-and you-to better enjoy the holidays.
2. Consider volunteering and giving to others during the holidays. Create special holiday giving traditions by volunteering at the local soup kitchen or putting together a care box for veterans. This will teach kindness and give perspective to the holidays.
3. Build family holiday rituals. Baking cookies and making homemade gifts, joining a holiday caroling group, or reading special holiday books helps kids and parents bond as well as keep busy. It provides meaning to the holiday and gives them something to look forward to year after year.
4. Keep your own stress level at bay. Modeling how to handle stress to your kids is one of the best ways for them to learn how to handle it themselves. Kids are sharp, they can sense your stress so be self-aware and get enough rest and take some time for YOU! Ask relatives to help out with holiday meals and consider limiting gift giving.
5. Kids need to be active. Not just at holiday time, but all the time! Limiting screen time is always a good measure and holidays are no exception. It can be tempting to let kids spend more time than usual on devices but stress needs a physical outlet. That can look like running, jumping, sledding, skating, or long walks in nature. Physical activity helps to relieve the buildup of tension.
6. Spend time together as a family. The holidays usually offer special opportunities to explore and learn. Have fun going to museum exhibits, holiday concerts or plays, or playing board games.
7. Practice being mindful. There is lots of talk out there about mindfulness and it is especially important in times of high stress.
Try to slow down the pace and practice being in the moment with kids. Acknowledge feelings during experiences and discuss feelings and thoughts without judgement. Practice some deep belly breathing with kids to help keep them and you focused on in the moment.
If you or your children are having struggling this holiday managing the holiday stress and emotions, please give Family Service of the Chautauqua Region a call at 488-1971.
We have licensed therapists available to help and assist you with these things.