5 Tips to a Stress-Free Holiday
Contributed by Rich Richmond, Beech Acres Parenting Center
Your family, like so many others, may feel additional stress during the holiday season. The days are colder, darker, and shorter. There are added holiday related responsibilities on top of your already busy routine. You may be spending more time with friends and extended family members than with your own family. And you may be even busier at work as the year winds down. All of these things may have a negative effect on you and your children.
Here are some tips to be more mindful and reduce stress this holiday season.
· Slow down. As your responsibilities add up this time of the year, you may find yourself rushing from place to place without getting anything accomplished. When we are in a hurry, we are not focused on self-care, much less caring for the rest of our family. Be intentional about taking some time for yourself and your family. Plan a favorite dinner, a family game night, or just a quiet evening relaxing with some hot chocolate.
· Continue to focus on your families’ strengths. With everything going on this time of the year, it can be easy to forget to focus on the important things. Did your daughter say something funny at the dinner table that made the whole family laugh? Point out her strengths of humor or zest. Did your son demonstrate curiosity or love of learning by sharing something new he learned at school? Take a moment to recognize that.
· Make time for mindfulness. Being mindful may be the last thing on your mind as your days become busier and busier, but it can be helpful in reducing stress. Focus on something new you see outside. A pile of leaves in the yard. A new view of your neighborhood through the empty trees. Lights or decorations on your neighbor’s house. What do they look like? What colors do you see? What do they sound like? Focus on something new each day for just a few minutes to gain a new perspective on the world around you. Even just a few moments of mindful breathing can help you relax and refocus.
· Prepare your children for different social situations. The holidays are tough on parents, but they can be just as stressful for your children as well. Holiday parties, a trip to a busy store, a crowded bus ride home. These situations can all elevate your child’s stress levels, especially if they are already prone to anxiety. Take time to talk to them before an event or a change in their routine. Tell them who will be at functions you attend and how long you plan to stay. Let them know which stores you are going to and what items you are buying. Have them help with shopping to give them something to focus on. Remind them that the Metro may be more crowded this time of year. These simple reminders can help set expectations and reduce anxiety.
· Have fun. What does your family like to do together? Go to the movies? Read a good book? Go hiking? Make time for those things in your schedule.
The holidays can be very stressful, but remember what you are supposed to be celebrating. Love. Hope. Gratitude. Making time in your busy routine for mindfulness, being intentional about spending time together and pointing out your child’s strengths can go a long way in creating a stress-free holiday season.