The holidays can be a hectic time for everyone, especially for parents who have kids that live at home. Along with the normal stress that the holidays can cause, circumstances such as busy work schedules, unemployment, illness, loss, and pandemic-related worries can make the holiday season even more difficult. Although each family’s situation is different, there are things that parents, teens, and kids can do to alleviate stress and other issues to help bring peace, hope, and happiness during the holiday season.
First, find hope.
Stress, anxiety, and depression can cause feelings of hopelessness. When you feel hopeless, you may also feel helpless because you feel like you have no control. Although you cannot control all situations, you CAN control how you respond and move forward. Stress, anxiety, and depression can cause feelings of hopelessness. When you feel hopeless, you may also feel helpless because you feel like you have no control.
Lean into gratitude. Take time to reflect before your day gets started or at the end of the day about at least one thing that makes you feel thankful. Then, during the day, as obstacles come your way or if you begin thinking about your problems, try to counter negative thoughts with a positive reflection of gratitude.
Think about past times when you successfully overcame other challenges. While the circumstances may be different, it can be beneficial to think back on past hard times and how you moved through that experience.
Practice self-care. It’s essential to make time to take care of yourself. Self-care may include:
- Ensuring a healthy work/life balance
- Practicing relaxation exercises and meditation
- Journaling feelings
- Doing things that make you happy
- Exercising (choosing a form that you enjoy)
- Not saying “yes” when you really want to say “no” (don’t overcommit)
It’s important to remind your kids that regardless of the things that may happen outside of their control, they have the power to respond in a way that gives them hope, generates positivity, and creates personal happiness, which ultimately is what they need to be okay.
Find ways to help your family reconnect.
The holiday season can bring forth great opportunities for families to reconnect.
- Now might be an excellent opportunity to try a new activity or even start a new tradition. A few ideas are a holiday picnic (outside if the weather is nice or inside if the weather doesn’t cooperate), a family karaoke night, going on a hike and playing a new game.
- Spread some holiday cheer. Showing kindness to others can be a great way to bond and spread holiday cheer. Baking cookies and dropping them off on a neighbor or friend’s porch is one inexpensive way to let people know that you’re thinking of them and that you care.
Have self-compassion and model it to your kids.
Self-compassion is an important concept that we don’t hear a lot about and one that most of us don’t practice enough. Both kids and adults need self-compassion. Self-compassion means understanding your emotional state in a non-judgmental way, to be able to turn understanding, acceptance, and love inward. Parents can help change their kids’ perspectives by teaching self-compassion, so they don’t automatically blame themselves when something bad happens. If you practice self-compassion, your kids are also likely to start practicing self-compassion.
Be a Positive Role Model.
Be a role model of kindness, non-judgmental behavior, and acceptance. Each family has its own viewpoints, beliefs, and decisions on issues like masks and vaccines, which may be different from yours. It’s okay to let your kids know that you share a different opinion than another family, but you should avoid bad-mouthing or making fun of others when you do so.
Remember that we’re about to embark on a new year during this holiday season. Try to look at the upcoming New Year as a fresh start with opportunities to bring more hope, gratitude, and peace.
I wish you a healthy and happy holiday season.