The holiday season can be as stressful as it is rewarding – and this year, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic requires most of us to completely reconsider our vacation plans. If you are a parent, you may feel the extra pressure to try to create the perfect vacation for your family – especially if you see the vacation period as a way to compensate for an imperfect year. That being said, it's no surprise that dealing with holiday stress can become even more difficult this year.
Meredith Prescott, a NYC-based psychotherapist specializing in young adults and couples, suggests reformulating your vision. "Your role as a parent is not to fix everything around the holidays," Prescott says. "Your role is to be a support person and listen to your child."
Of course, the best way to give your family that kind of support and care begins with taking care of yourself ̵
How else can you take care of yourself and your family – including your extended family – during this unsurpassed holiday season? We contacted four mental health staff to teach you how to support your family, practice self-care and stay calm while dealing with stress during your holiday in Covid. Read on to learn some tips on holiday stress.
In this article:
Set clear expectations
One of the best ways to deal with holiday stress – both for yourself and your loved ones – is to set clear expectations. The holidays will look different this year and talking honestly about expectations can reduce some of the stress and uncertainty associated with not knowing what the 2020 holiday can bring.
"Communicating clear expectations can be a huge relief for parents," Prescott explains. She notes that children often do better when they know what to expect, whether it is zooming in with relatives on Christmas morning, replacing the annual ski trip with a stay or preparing for a budget-friendly holiday that may include fewer gifts.
The same goes for the adults in your family – especially your extended family. If the grandparents are still hoping for a personal holiday visit, for example, giving expectations as quickly as possible can give everyone time to process their disappointment and plan something new.
"Often, such discussions with family members can often help reduce stress levels," said Paul Greene, a psychologist with expertise in anxiety and depression who heads the Manhattan Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. If you do not feel comfortable traveling to visit relatives this year, start these conversations now – and if you or your loved ones are considering making the trip, talk to your family members about how you can reduce the risks of vacation travel.
The sooner you communicate about what you need to feel comfortable this holiday, the sooner you actually start to feel comfortable .
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Adapting holiday traditions
One of the toughest parts of the holiday 2020 is that Find out what to do with your family's holiday traditions. You may still be able to make your favorite dishes, for example, but will it feel the same if you can not enjoy them with your friends and relatives at the annual holiday party?
This year, perhaps the answer is flexibility and adaptation. Is it possible to hand in some holiday dishes at a loved one's doorstep or send a box of goodies by post? Would your extended family be interested in creating a recipe change, so that everyone can cook the same dishes in their own kitchen and share the same meal online?
"If you skip holiday visits this year, try to mitigate that loss by making an effort to stay in touch with the family you are missing," says Greene. "Whether by phone or video, find ways to connect even if you can not be together. It will not be the same, but it will help make the holiday more of the shared experience they are for most of us. ”
This applies to all your shared holiday experiences, not just those who If your kids usually attend a holiday concert or party, ask them if they want to create their own show at home (and if they are not interested, do not tap into it) .If your family likes to spend the holiday of watching the latest Hollywood blockbusters, set aside a Sunday afternoon for streaming media and gourmet popcorn.If you and your besties want to chase holiday deals together, ask them if they want to meet on FaceTime or Zoom to hand added holiday sales 2020.
Check out with yourself – and your family
While working to set expectations and reshape traditions can help busy parents relieve stress during the holidays, do not forget that this type of emotional workforce and relative is work – and it will not only take time and energy, but it can also evoke some emotional or physical reactions that you did not expect.
"Create Space to Recognize How You Really Feel," suggests Saba Harouni Lurie, owner and founder of Take Root Therapy. "While some of us may think we are calm when we are in autopilot and completing tasks, we may find another story when we really check in with our bodies."
In other words: Although you may tell yourself (and everyone else) that it's okay that you can not travel this year, or that you can make as many memories over zoom, your body may want to mourn the losses in in connection with this unprecedented holiday season (whether they & # 39;
You may also simply need time to process the stresses associated with making meals and the shopping list and zoom schedules that allow your family to make these holiday memories – and if you do not take that time, your body can start sending out warning signals. "Maybe we have a lot of stress in the shoulders, or we have a headache," says Lurie. "These unspoken tensions can lead to us actually feeling overwhelmed. "
How does Lurie suggest that we deal with these complicated feelings and tensions? By acknowledging how we really enjoy the holidays – even if these feelings are negative." Giving yourself a chance to feel and acknowledge what you are realizing gen feel, and then calm yourself when you have the opportunity, can help you get a deeper state of calm than just seem to put together on the surface. "
In addition to checking in with your own feelings, it is also a good idea to check in regularly with your partner and your children. They can also process some big emotions for this year's holiday season, and such emotions often become a minor burden when shared.
"Encourage your children to talk to you," Prescott says. Tell them that you are here for them and validate their feelings that it is normal to feel disappointed or sad or whatever they feel. This is really hard!
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