Family, Holidays and Managing Stress

The holidays are the perfect time for families to come together and set aside long distance and, in some cases, personal differences to celebrate the spirit of the season, peace and goodwill. We’re sure many of our families in the community will be getting together with their own extended family whether they are doing the traveling or others are coming for a visit.

The holidays can be a stressful time, and as caregivers and family members, we are unfortunately forced to get used to a steady stream of stress on a regular basis as we take care of our children and other loved ones. Toss into the mix outside forces like the added stress of holiday shopping, packed roads and parking lots, larger-than-normal expenses and houseguests or visitors dropping by for the holidays, it can compound an already demanding schedule.

Even when the holiday itself is over, some stress lingers. School-aged children are likely home from school for at least another week or two, out-of-town guests may be staying through New Year’s, and the decorations, opened gifts and lingering decorations and mess that accompany it are probably still part of the scenery.

We offer some helpful reminders to help you keep it all together.

  • Stop and take five. Make that 10, if you truly need it. Sometimes we forget that we have the power to stop in our lives at any point and simply rest … just for a moment. It may not feel like it sometimes, but a simple moment to meditate, go for a walk, take a 30-minute power-nap – all of these tactics can give us an extra boost or free our mind from built-up stress and aggravation and enable us to continue to be functional. Do whatever’s necessary to help yourself operate more smoothly.
  • Vent – however, wherever. If the stress of the holidays has become too hard to deal with any further and built up so much that it has nowhere left to go but to become misdirected, then stop it before it happens. Instead, find an outlet to channel it – an aerobic activity of some kind (jumping rope, swimming, a cycling class, kickboxing, etc.). Find a way to take out your pent-up energy and frustration in a positive and possibly even beneficial way for your body and mind.
  • Accept help. You may have added company in the house, but this also means extra sets of hands. It may not be easy to train anyone to help out with significant caregiving duties but perhaps while close family are staying with you, they can help pitch in other ways to lend a hand and free up your time to continue caring for a loved one and do those things that only you can handle.
  • Build in one “me” moment a day. Don’t let yourself get lost in the hectic pace of the season. Sometimes even just scheduling into your calendar one practice a day to allow yourself a little “me” time, a feel-good moment, can give you that extra burst of energy and patience necessary to push through a jam-packed to-do list and manage a full house of company. Whether it’s a manicure, foot soak, blocked off time to read for pleasure (not purpose) or a phone chat with a good friend, don’t neglect yourself because you need to be at 100% to be the best parent, caregiver and host. Never forget to give your own care priority in order to do this.
  • Don’t lose sight of the whole point of this time of year. The holidays should be about focusing on spending time with the people we care about. Take advantage of unexpected opportunities to visit with family and if there are dirty dishes on the counters or papers cluttering the den office area, so be it. Your guests will have to deal with it. You want to set a good example for your child of what the holidays are all about, and that means spending time with the people who mean most when opportunities present themselves. That is truly one of the most valuable lessons we can teach our kids.

Do you have any of your own suggestions you can offer other members of the community? Please feel free to share them here. We’d love to hear from you.

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