Holiday season is just around the corner. It can be both a joyous time and a time of stress for families. With the busyness of shopping and the gatherings of family and friends, your family’s normal routine can get disrupted, but rather than letting stress color your holidays, why not take time now, while it’s still early, to rethink how you view the season?
This can be an opportunity to communicate with your family realistic expectations and to create new holiday traditions.
You can begin a conversation by creating new expectations of holiday gifts. Remind yourself and family members that the holidays are celebrations for enjoying family and friends, not merely opening store-bought presents. They’re also times of spiritual connection and gratitude, for which you can create new family traditions, such as:
• volunteering at a food bank,
• serving a holiday meal for Lighthouse Mission,
• going to Village Books to buy a book for a child from the Giving Tree,
• spending time at a nursing home,
• inviting someone to holiday dinner who may otherwise be spending it alone, or
• creating a food basket for a family in need.
The holidays also can be a time of excessive indulgence in favorite holiday foods and the abundance of tempting sugary snacks. These can deplete energy and lead to fatigue and fussiness. It’s helpful to create healthy boundaries around sweets for your family by providing easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grain snacks. Encourage family members to choose those first.
It’s also easy for routines to get off track, which can increase stress and anxiety for both parents and children. You may notice a decrease in quality family time and an increase in chaos and irritability. To help keep balance, create a calendar that is easy for all to see. Ask for input from your children about new activities they would like to explore. Encourage a combination of quiet time, family projects, and exercise time. Examples of activities are:
• family reading night,
• walks in nature,
• making handmade gifts,
• creating a meal together,
• listening to music, and
• participating in many of the free family festivities available in our community.
Parents: It’s also important that you give yourself permission to de-stress. Allowing even five minutes a day can make a difference. That means unplugging from the computer, phone and television. Schedule regular time for yourself; have that five minutes at the same time every day. This is your time to take in some deep breaths. Slowly breathe 10 breaths in and 10 breaths out. Be focused on your breath, while imagining your body and mind are calm. If you can allow yourself more than five minutes, write in a journal, take a warm bath, or go for a walk.
By being open to new ways of spending your holiday season, you and your family may be starting new traditions that you wish to carry on for years to come. And some of these changes may become healthy habits for living your daily lives.