The holidays are often a combination of wonderful and stressful, especially when families get together. Children and adults can feel overwhelmed by the change in routine and increase in sensory input all around (think: the lights, the music, the smells, the traffic, the crowds of people). The stress and anxiety around the holidays can cause many people to turn to bad habits and over-indulgences of sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. Instead of giving into the stress of the holidays, allow it to be an opportunity to practice self-care. We can care for ourselves by maintaining appropriate boundaries with our loved ones, saying no to non-essential obligations, and finding moments of peace among the chaos.
Incorporating self-care will help release some of the worry and stress, and instead bring more calm and enjoyment to your family this holiday season.
Set Reasonable Expectations
Create a holiday "To-Do" List. With so many things to get done around the holidays, you don't want to forget to buy a gift for someone or pick up that important ingredient for your holiday meal. Help clear your mind and organize your thoughts by putting it on a physical list (paper or electronic), and mark items with the highest priority. Taking the time to jot them down will keep you focused and reduce the risk of forgetting those items.
No holiday celebration is perfect. Anything that does not go according to plan provides you with an opportunity to practice your flexibility and resilience. A crooked tree or a burned dinner won’t ruin your holiday — it will create a family memory.
Help your kids understand the value of your holiday. School-aged kids are often aware that there are a variety of different holidays and traditions celebrated in the homes of their classmates. You can use this as an opportunity to discuss your own family traditions and how they might have changed over time. You can encourage your child to be curious about how other families celebrate the holidays. Not everyone needs to be the same. It is important to teach open-mindedness about others and their celebrations.
Help your kids understand develop reasonable expectations too. If your children’s wish list is outside your budget, take it as an opportunity to remind them that presents are not what's important during the holidays. Depending on your child's age, this can be an opportunity to teach your child about the value of money and responsible spending.
Plan ahead and decide what is important. Accept your limitations at this time. These limitations won’t last forever. I