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Five Tried and True Ways to Ease Holiday Stress

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By Kyle Pruett, M.D.

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Do you feel you are overdoing the holidays and beginning to stress out once again this year? Most of us tend to focus on keeping our children and their schedules – especially for the young ones – under some kind of control to limit the damage and hurt feelings that frequently accompany this overdoing. The most effective way to calm holiday stress, however, is to manage our own. Children will learn far more about staying calm when we get there first. Here are some tried and true ways to help you along the way:

  1. Manage your own expectations. Perfect holidays do not exist in real time, so expect some happiness, delight, surprise, disappointment, fatigue and meltdowns. Tell your children to expect the same.
  1. Make a list. Well ahead of time, sit down and make a list of holiday things you’d like to do or achieve, then cut it in half and proceed. One or two special events spread out over two days, with a generous dose of hanging out and “just being” time, is a pretty good pace. Get some sleep with the time you save instead.
  1. Accept help from others. Remember, you have already yielded on perfection as a goal, so let people bring some food and distribute chores for the bigger events. People old and young typically love being useful, even if it adds to the chaos.
  1. Watch the sweets, fats and fermented spirits. Your (and your children’s) tensions can all be exacerbated by lousy dietary indulgences, not to mention the guilt and the weight gain, which only add more stress.
  1. Play outside. Get out of the house and exercise (children and grownups). It helps to repair the damage to routines and relationships by refreshing minds and bodies.