Holiday Stress Busters for the Whole Family
1. You do YOU!
It’s cliché, but it’s imperative. With all the hoopla you can find online via social media…with perfectly decked out halls and trees, scrumptious looking feasts and pictures of happy families, it’s easy to be misled to believe that everyone else is having the “perfect” holiday. Meanwhile sibling squabbles, a burnt turkey and a tree toppled over by the family cat await you…ornaments strewn from end to end in the house. Remember that what you see on social media is a highlights reel...and even people with perfectly edited pictures are human beings and, as such, are prone to every frustration and mishap that you are. Nobody is exempt. Do not compare, do not compare, do not compare!
2. Keep it Positive
Though situations call for tough measures...and it's as easy as some positive self-talk. This needn't be anything elaborate. It's as simple as repeating the phrase "You Got This!" in your head as often as is necessary. Need little reminders? Get yourself a coffee mug, sign or whatever will help you remember this. You can also scrawl this reminder on a post-it note or any scrap of paper and stick it where you're sure to see it when you need it the most! Know what? This very skill works for your kids, too...and you can teach it to them as young as age 3 or 4. I've happily witnessed kids "talk out loud to themselves" as they've dealt with frustrating situations. It REALLY makes a difference! "Keep trying" or "You've almost got it" can go a long way! Teach kids to help themselves with this kind of positive self-talk. It will serve them for a lifetime...I know because I just talked to my eldest son in grad school...and these concepts are still serving him well! If it works for my family and the thousands of family members I've helped through the decades, I know it can work for your family, too! Be sure to let me know how it goes!
2. Find JOY in the Smallest of Spaces.
It’s what I practice and what I preach. Even in the midst of things going wrong, counting our blessings and focusing on things for which we are grateful is one sure fire way to spark happiness in our lives. Research from several universities supports this, including the University of Miami and the University of Pennsylvania. Inspire your family to cultivate gratitude and see if it improves everyone’s mood! This family gratitude journal can help! You can even make your own! An old notebook or even some printing paper that you staple together will do!
3. Catch some Zzzzzzzz’s.
Sleep is necessary to our health and getting the proper amount of sleep can help immunize you against stress, help you cope better and protect your physical health. This is true for every member of your family. Go for soothing, bedtime rituals for the entire family that signal to the brain and body that it’s time to wind down and get some much needed rest. What helps in your home? White noise machines or a fan can be helpful to drown out extraneous noises. Others swear by oil diffusers and salt lamps. What works for each family will be personal.
4. Laugh in the Face of Adversity
Seems antithetical, doesn't it? That we should find humor in down times...when things aren't going our way...or when we might otherwise want to scream, cry or run for the hills while throwing our hands in the air. Yet, finding a small chuckle in an abysmal situation might be exactly what gets you through. To read more on laughter in tough times, check out this article by The Atlantic. (Warning, there is adult language in the post, so if that offends, you might take a pass.) One thing is for sure...laughter can serve as an inoculation against stress...and to keep it family friendly, why not make a trip to the library and grab some joke books? Or get some for your family library. Seriously, I've recommended laughter for classrooms and I've certainly used jokes in therapy with kids and families. "The shortest distance between two people is a smile!"
5. Just Breathe!
As simple as it sounds, taking deep breaths is the first line of defense against stress. Make sure you're taking deep belly-breaths (not shallow breaths that make your chest rise) to ward off feelings of upset and tension. Don't wait until you are stressed to do this. Take intentional, deep breaths throughout the day to act as a buffer for stress, before it even happens. Teach your kids to take deep breaths, too.
How do you keep everyone on track at your house through the holidays?
Wendy Young, LMSW, BCD, is the founder of Kidlutions and co-author of BLOOM: 50 Things to Say, Think and Do with Anxious, Angry and Over-the-Top Kids. She is the creator of numerous workbooks and resources to help from the preschool through the teen years. Follow her on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook! She'd love to see your smiling face there! Affiliate links may be used in this post. Please see our full disclaimer, located at the top of our page for more information.