Although holidays are seen as great family times, very often, they can be a time of family discord. We find that our schedules fill up quickly. We change our eating habits. We have gatherings to the point of being over-committed. There are all kinds of anticipations about what the holidays will bring to our children and often the emotions, stress and anxiety run very high.
Tips to avoid emotional stress and anxiety at holiday time
For families that have had recent tragedy, the holidays can be depressing because they offer a chance to re-live grief and loss. I know many who seem to be doing very well but still tend to have emotional and relational struggles which impact home and family relationships during the season.
As much fun as the holidays can be, it can be a time of stress for children.
I think it is important to recognize that this can be a crazy time, full of angst for immature and impulsive children and teenagers. In fact, with so much going on, it is sometimes very hard to know what to do with our own emotions during the holidays.
Because of high emotions and the potential for anxiety, we need to be especially intentional and aware. It is why we should work diligently to create balance and stable brain-based environments in our home.
Here are some thoughts that may be helpful:
- Be careful not to over-schedule the family.
- Put into the schedule some relational downtime for your family to simply process the events and issues around them.
- Attempt to maintain a normal schedule for your family including good nutrition, sleep and exercise habits.
- Allow time to get to and from events at a relaxed pace.
- Share the load at events and meal times. Allow others to help with the preparations.
- Make sure you are taking time to relax, focus, breathe, listen to music and experience a calm brain state for yourself.
- Be careful about expectations for children and teenagers. They are feeling the anticipations or stress of the season and often are not processing it well. Rather than react in anger, take some time to listen, observe and understand what the sources of these issues are.
- Have fun with your family during the holidays. Laughter is a great stress reliever.
- Enjoy your traditions and know that they will always remember them.
The holidays can be wonderful, but not if our families are living in total disequilibrium. Rather than reacting and being powerless, our families can best experience this wonderful season if we are intentional about planning and are both wise and realistic in our expectations. I do hope that taking time to be intentional, your family will be able to enjoy each other, establish great traditions and stay balanced in the midst of all the stresses.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network