The season is a time for family, friends, presents, parties and….holiday stress. Studies show that the holidays can be the most stressful time of year. Nearly a quarter of Americans reported feeling “extreme stress” come holiday time, according to a poll by the American Psychological Association.
So what can you do to limit common holiday stress for you and your family? Boys Town of South Florida Psychologist Diane Andreou has shared her tips with us!
Have a Realistic Holiday Message
The holiday season contains many messages about how things should be in order to make it the most wonderful time of the year. Some of these messages are not practical or realistic to accomplish. Make a point to list what are the essential things that need to be done. For example, how much decorating, how many gifts to buy, how many parties or dinners to attend, or how much effort to put into where to move the Elf tonight might be a good place to start. Remember what is really important to you.
Finances can be stretched thin during the holidays. Set a budget and stick to it. Track your spending daily to stay on top of it. Be like Santa and make a list to help minimize impulse buying.
Plan on Clearly Communicating
Spending time with extended family can be another holiday stress for many people during the holiday season. Planning in advance and saying “no” are skills that can come in handy. Effective communication can minimize conflict.
Managing a Child’s Holiday Hysteria
Children can become stressed by the changes in routine. Schedules change– people coming for visits, having to share or give up their room to relatives. Children can increase their negative attention-seeking behaviors at this time. Parents can plan to provide extra undivided positive attention to children for a few minutes daily to change this pattern.
Maintain Basic Healthy Habits
Back to the basics…mood is improved and anxiety is decreased by getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods consistently, and exercising. Recognize how you cope with holiday stress. Drinking, eating too much, and smoking are some examples of unhealthy habits. Increased arguing or conflict with family members or colleagues is another sign of stress. Be aware of these or other stress behaviors and seek help if needed.
Kids of Divorced Parents
A holiday season for families following divorce or separation can be complicated. Again, routines are different and it is difficult to spend as much time together with everyone across different homes. Communication between exes is essential for scheduling, deciding who gets which gift, and keeping consistent routines for children to follow. Holidays are not a competition between exes for their children’s affection and attention.
To learn more about Boys Town’s Behavioral Health Clinic, visit: www.boystown.org/locations/south-florida