Managing Holiday Stress

by Debra Koss, MD

The holidays can be a wonderful time of year filled with joy and celebration. It’s a season for gathering with family and friends. It’s a time when religious and cultural traditions are shared. But the holidays can also be a stressful time of the year filled with expectations and disappointments. Holiday stress can be caused by many factors. The pressures of shopping and managing bills can affect the holiday spirit of giving. Extended visits with family and friends can put strain on relationships.  Children may be especially sensitive at this time of year to changes brought about by separation, divorce, military deployments or death of a loved one.

Here are some strategies that may help you and your family manage holiday stress.

  1. Set reasonable expectations for you and your family. Manage your time by creating a schedule. Choose activities that are a priority for your family. Say “no” to activities and events that leave your family feeling over-scheduled.
  2. Discuss holiday plans in advance and let children join in decision making as much as possible. Invite your children to express their opinion about holiday visits and traditions.
  3. Traditions are an important part of the holiday season. Maintain your focus on the true meaning of the holiday for your family. Continue family traditions that hold meaning for your family and be open to discovering new traditions.
  4. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Children benefit from predictable routines. Make sure everyone in your family is eating a healthy diet and getting enough rest. Maintain exercise routines. Spend time outdoors. Take time to relax.
  5. This is a wonderful time of year to experience the joy of giving. Involve your children in community activities designed to help those in need. Even young children can participate in creating holiday cards or baking holiday treats.

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