October 29, 2012

Overcoming the stressful slumps of the holidays

By Holly Alguire
Bradley University Student Intern
Mississippi Valley Child Protection Center
Child Abuse Council

Holidays are supposed to be a relaxing, fun-filled time for family. But, somehow, this time of year tends to be the most stressful few weeks. Whether it be worrying how many people are showing up for dinner, finding the perfect gift, or even getting nervous about the credit card bills that will show up next month, there seems to be a lot of expectations riding on everyone’s shoulders. Here are a few tips by Dr. Georgia Witkin, expert on family relationships and stress management, which will help you get out of that stressful slump.

1. I will put myself on my list of loved ones. Watch your sleep, nutrition, and exercise — and make sure you’re having fun, too.
2. I will practice saying no sometimes. It’s okay to deny your children/grandchildren what they demand once in a while. The kids will appreciate the extra TV time, special snacks, and new toys more if you give them a little less often.
3. I will play with my children/grandchildren, not just supervise. Your children/grandchildren will never remember all the laundry you did for them — but they’ll never forget the time you all went down the slide together. So don’t just supervise, participate.
4. I will not keep my children/grandchildren entertained every minute. Downtime is an opportunity for imagination, and children need that more than they need yet another activity. Don’t feel guilty if you take them along to run errands.
5. I will under-schedule myself (and I’ll still have too much to do). We tend to forget to budget our time and energy during the holidays and instead loan ourselves to our extended families as cheap labor. And when an emergency or another essential task arises, cross something off your “To do” list before you add the new item.
6. I will expect the best. Make positive prophesies for the holidays. They could be self-fulfilling. Besides, anxious worrying never helps — it just adds stress even before anything negative happens.
7. I will be my own best friend. Be on your own side. Listen to yourself. Pat yourself on the back when you do well. Forgive yourself when you don’t. You teach this to your kids and grandkids — now apply it to yourself.
8. I will treat my family the way I treat my friends. If you can do the same with your family, you’ll be a great role model for your children/grandchildren.”

If you keep these eight tips in mind, you can get through the holidays with a smiling face and a positive attitude. The tip that works most effectively with me is number five. I tend to over schedule myself most days, and become stressed out when I can’t finish the last few tasks. Remembering to cross out one item is truly important when adding to your list. So, try and stay as cheerful as you can, you only see your extended family a few times per year, and you don’t want to create bad memories. Take a deep breath and walk away every once in a while when you’re feeling overloaded with tasks, and make the most of this holiday season by spending an abundance of time with the ones you love.

For more information about the Child Abuse Council’s prevention and education programs, you can visit us at www.childabuseqc.org.