The most wonderful time of the year?

Holidays can be exciting but also stressful, especially for kids who thrive on routine

The most wonderful time of the year?

Concerts, parties, family get-togethers, traveling, baking, and shopping — no wonder the holidays are stressful. Even positive stress can become overwhelming.

Tips to buffer your holiday stress

Holidays typically bring additional things to do, places to be and expectations that disrupt your family’s usual routines. The holiday season can be exciting and memorable but also stressful, especially for children who thrive on routine and consistency. Consider these tips to help keep your holiday season less stressful:

  • Stick with routines: Regular eating and sleeping times provide children with structure and predictability that gives children a sense of security and calmness.
  • Eat nutritious foods: To maintain appropriate levels of energy, make sure to keep healthy foods on the daily menu.
  • Drink plenty of water: Don’t forget to keep hydrated. Staying hydrated helps keep cortisol, a stress hormone, levels low.
  • Find ways to move: Physical activity helps decrease the levels of adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormones. Moving also increases the production of endorphins that help elevate one’s mood. So, get outside and take a walk or build a snowman together.
  • Prepare for transitions: The busyness of holidays can be very stressful for children that have a low adapt temperament. Giving children a heads up of what is coming next and allowing them time to adjust can minimize their stress. For example, “John, in 10 minutes we’re going to be leaving for Grandma’s. You will need to stop playing so we can go.”
  • Manage expectations: Holidays are supposed to be exciting and fun! Yet, they may bring boredom at family events, disappointment in gifts not received, and being overwhelmed due to too much stimulation. When children experience such feelings, provide empathy and understanding along with your expectations of their behavior.
  • Plan downtime together: Don’t forget to schedule some downtime. If you don’t schedule it, it probably won’t happen. Make time for 10-15 minutes a day to enjoy relaxing music, reading stories, etc. Taking time to relax is important in order to keep stress under control.
  • Deep breathe together: Help your child learn the simple stress management technique of taking deep breaths; it will help you too. When stressful feelings start to erupt, take some deep breaths together — inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Deep breathing sends a message to the brain to calm down and relax; in turn, the brain sends a message to the body to relax.

Keep things in perspective and enjoy the moments you share together that will become great memories.

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Posted In Behavioral Health, Children's, Family Medicine, Parenting