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'Tis the stressful season

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

Useful tips to maintain your composure and mental health during this year’s holiday season.

By: Cory McArdle

We’re here already - that holiday season filled with joy, gifts, difficult family members, lots travel, and stress. Our kids routines are messed up, they’re all at home, and ever since you heard the Christmas music playing in the stores at Thanksgiving your stress has been in a slow crescendo until this moment.

Parents have cited five areas as common holiday stress triggers:

· First, new moms especially often feel the need to make things perfect, carry on family tradition, and burn themselves out quickly.

· Second, the travel and juggling family demands. Add in divorce or a blended family and your holiday is spent in the car - going to your moms house, the in-laws, your aunt Mary’s, over to the ex’s to drop off your kid for their dinner, and then who knows where else?! You feel like you’re being pulled from all directions.

· Third, shopping for everyone and financial strain.

· Fourth, unhappy families, judgement from your parents on how to parent, and then that uncle that always feels the need to bring up politics during dinner.

· Finally - add in the continuation of COVID and that brings an additional layer of stress.

We thought it would be helpful to share some tips to help you maintain your composure and mental health during this year’s holiday season.

  1. Have realistic expectations. Embrace imperfection. Remind yourself that imperfection is healthy and normal, but stressing yourself out to live up to that high bar you set yourself is not. Focus more on the moment and the overall experience.

  2. Stick to a budget and set that expectation early on. Determine a set amount for your children, convince family to do a swap or secret Santa, or set a spending limit with family members.

  3. Learn to say NO. Make compromises with family members if you know that driving all over and conflicting commitments are going to stress you out.

  4. Be prepared for some level of conflict and have a plan. Too many personalities, high stress, and fatigue impacts everyone during the holidays. Plan ahead for yourself mentally so you have healthy ways to breathe through the conflict.

  5. Prep the kids for the changes in routine and do your best to keep things as routine as possible for them, whether that’s a set breakfast time or a consistent bedtime wind down routine even if it is later than usual.

  6. Set and enforce boundaries with family members who have toxic behaviors. Maybe your mom has something to say about your parenting, or your brother reverts to picking on you again after a couple drinks. Don’t go to old behaviors yourself - set and maintain your boundaries.

  7. Use mindfulness and give yourself a moment if you feel your stress levels elevating. Remind yourself that you control the outcome of the situation. Those 5 deep breaths can help shift your perspective and attitude – even if you have to run and hide in the bathroom to take them.

  8. Find virtual ways to connect. If there are health concerns with COVID, set up a time for everyone to Zoom or FaceTime other family members. Or maybe create a holiday Spotify playlist and share it across the family.

However you plan to spend the holidays this season, You Have A Village wishes you an enjoyable, calm, and relaxing time with those you love. We hope these tips are helpful and you are able to enjoy your holidays with as much reduced stress as possible.

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