Combating Holiday Stress

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As we head into the last two months of the year, we are also heading into the time of year that can bring high levels of stress to our family’s life.  Yes, more stress than usual. I’ve listed below some commons stressfully we all experience at this time of year. I’m sure many of them will strike a chord with you. Consider these solutions to reduce your stress, and, yes, some may be easier to do than others, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! 

UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

You plan on having a “perfect” holiday! Your home will look just like the pictures in magazines, your meals will be flawless (and everyone will eat everything on their plates), you’ll go caroling, make it to church, etc.

SOLUTION: Relax – none of us is perfect! The holidays are about being with friends and family. Be yourself, enjoy the people around you, and live in the moment.

TOO MANY RESPONSIBILITIES

Scheduling too many activities during the holidays can put a big strain on the family.

SOLUTION: Don’t take on more than you can handle, learn to say “No,” and do not over commit yourself or your family. 

HOLIDAY TRAVEL 

Traveling during the holidays (or having guests at your home) can cause extra stress due to traffic, lack of sleep, packing, and being in tight quarters. 

SOLUTION: Plan your trips in advance, and do not be afraid to limit the stay of your own guests. Expect there to be challenges along the way and remember that traveling can be hard on kids, too. Spread the holidays out and travel before or after the important days.

UNPLEASANT MEMORIES

Un-wanted memories can resurface during the holidays and can unknowingly add stress. 

SOLUTION: Surround yourself and your children with safe, supportive people. Being with others can provide strength during trying times.

FINANCIAL PRESSURE

Not setting a budget and overspending adds stress and can ruin the holiday spirit.

SOLUTION: Your family and friends do not want you to go into debt. Buy smaller gifts, create handmade gifts…remember it’s the thought that counts!

CULTURAL DIVERSITY

With so many different cultures in our area, children can feel different, out of place, or confused if they’re not celebrating all the same holidays as their peers, and that can lead to family stress. 

SOLUTION: Talk to your child about all the holidays people celebrate and why. Spend time learning about other holidays so they understand them as well as your own.

USING TO COPE

During the busy holiday season, many people increase their use of alcohol and drugs, decrease sleep, and consume more food than usual.

SOLUTION: Take good care of yourself and your family! Get proper rest, eat healthy foods, and avoid alcohol or drugs.

Use these next few weeks to do a little pre-holiday planning.  It will change your perspective on the holidays and give you the confidence to handle whatever comes your way.

 

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Tracy owns Safe Spaces, a consulting and training firm that focuses on building resilient families, communities and organizations (www.sfspcs.com). She is also an Authorized Facilitator and Certified Instructor with Darkness to Light, www.d2l.org, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. Tracy has taught pre kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade and has served as a Site Administrator for an elementary school. Currently, she is a Teacher-in-Residence with Prezi and also a college and career advisor for Students Rising Above. Tracy grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education and child abuse prevention. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to a 16-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son. Self-care includes getting to know her new community, having lunch with friends, pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family.

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