PARENT TIP: Surviving Holiday Stress
This brief Parent Tip is provided at no
cost by United Services for Effective Parenting-Ohio, Inc. as a tool
to assist parents, teachers, grandparents and all who help to care
for and to raise our children. For more information on this and
other tools from USEP-OHIO refer to the conclusion of this Parent
The holiday trifecta,
Thanksgiving, Christmas (for some of us, Hanukkah for others) and
New Years is upon us. Oh Joy! Parents have told me, “Yes, write
another parent tip on stress!” We all seem to feel it, and we are
not alone with the challenges of finding joy among the stressors.
A Prevention Magazine/Dateline NBC
Survey reports that most people feel nervous, stressed, and have
family conflict during the holidays. They worry about money, feel
over-committed, take on too much responsibility, and feel pressured
to do things they don’t really want to do.
The gap between
what we hope the season will be like versus how it turns out, is
usually caused by our high expectations of the season.
We hope for Christmas trees and Hanukkah festivities, laughter,
generosity, giving, beautiful music, candlelight services, family
gatherings, cookies and eggnog, togetherness, surprises, fun, love,
memories and peace on earth and in the family.
Our images may not include what we
might also receive - exhaustion, busyness, loneliness, depression,
guilt, regrets, debt, family conflicts, painful memories, grief and
separation from loved ones. This gap between our hopes and reality
is often increased by the focus on activity rather than reflection.
Winter weather can also bring us down. For some people feelings of
depression (seasonal affective disorder - SAD) intensified by the
short, dark days keep us from experiencing “the most wonderful time
of the year”. Poor boundaries – A combination of not knowing our
limits and not allowing ourselves to say “NO” can complicate an
already frenetic season. Family issues and poor communication, lack
of forgiveness and resurfacing of old grudges can cause new
Losses like divorce, illness, death or
the anniversary of a loss sometimes surprise us with the intense
feelings they provoke during the holidays.
So how can we manage the gap between
the good feelings and the frustrations?
Set reasonable expectations.
Give yourself permission. Ask for help
and take it when offered.
Don’t ignore your grief, dive in and
feel it, then set it aside for later.
Enjoy the good things. Avoid “grinchiness”.
Make good choices – sleep, eat well,
Seek quiet and peace. Find ways to
give to those who are in need, and savor the satisfaction.
Reflect - Listen for the gentle whisper
of the season by reflecting on your faith, your feelings of
abundance and the simple joys of family, friends and the beauty of
the world around you.
We invite you to share this USEP-OHIO
publication with other parents, students and professionals at home
or work. You have permission to copy Tips as written, send on as
email, or print for a newsletter or handout. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 1-800-262-4KIDS to add email addresses to our list, to give
us feedback about how the information works for you, or for other
topics, publications and programs.