It’s not always “Happy Holidays” during this time of year. Here are 5 tips for managing stress around your family this time of year.
Did you know that 8 out of 10 Americans feel extra stressed during the holidays? Between financial stress, decorations, family and travel, the stress and anxiety can really pile on. We would like to think this time of year is always as lovely as marshmallows and whipped cream. However, we recognize spending extra time with family and the demands of the season can sometimes become stressful and overwhelming for you and everyone in your family. Here are 5 tips to help you enjoy this season a little bit more:
- Self-care– BEFORE you spend time with family, tell yourself “I Got This!” Take time to take a few deep breaths and gather your thoughts. Do something relaxation for yourself before you head out of town to visit family or attend a holiday function.
- Respond instead of reacting – often conversations can take a quick turn and escalate. Be prepared to provide a quick answer, ignore, take a break, and take deep breaths. Know in advance what topics are triggers for you and have a line ready to say in order to diffuse the situation. For example, “You know, I am going to take a break for a minute, I’ll be right back” and then take a few minutes for yourself in another room or grab something to eat or drink.
- Relax the rules a little bit with your kids but set boundaries – outside influences to parenting can often cause stress. During the holidays, choose your battles and let up a bit on the rules. However, remember, it’s always okay to do what’s best for your family and set boundaries. It’s also okay to listen to what your family has to say, allow yourself to be open minded and know there is always room for compromise
- Be a united front with your partner- when it comes to meddling in-laws and family members with suggestions about how to do things, it’s best to remain a united front with your significant other. Politely listen to the suggestions but know it’s okay to re-direct the conversation. Turn to your partner for support and communicate how you are feeling.
- Don’t force your kids to hug – Adults are not the only ones who experience increased stress during the holidays. Children also feel stressed around extended family members who they don’t see frequently. It’s common place for parents to encourage their kids to “Give Aunt Judy a hug!” or “Let Grandma give you a kiss!” However, kids are entitled to say no and protect their body. People your kids see once a year are strangers to them. Let your child take the lead on how they would like to express their love and affection. The adults should understand, don’t worry about them being offended.
Finally, take a moment to remember the true meaning of this season. You are entitled to enjoy the holiday just as much as anyone else. Take one day at a time and take a deep breath. Like #1 mentioned, you got this!
Alycia Burant, LPC
Practice Owner & Therapist