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Health Connection: December 2015

Breathe Your Way Through the Holiday Craziness

The holidays are here! More things to do, people to see and places to go. These things might be fun, but they also can be stressful. To make this holiday season a happy and peaceful one, look for healthy ways to manage stress.

The media often portray the holiday season as trouble-free, twinkly and festive. But family problems may escalate when the season arrives. The reality of the holidays, much like life, is that real people and families are not perfect. If you can change your expectations just a bit so you don’t expect holidays to be like the movies, you may have a more enjoyable experience.

Set reasonable expectations. Do your best to stick to your regular family routine. Changing your schedule to fit in holiday activities and traveling can be tough on you and your kids, so try to keep things as normal as possible. Try to keep bedtimes and mealtimes the same even when you’re away from home. Talk with your family about schedules. Take time to explain each day’s activities to your children and let them know what you expect from them.

Together, choose activities that you really want to do. You can’t do everything, so you
might let your children pick their favorite things for your family to do. Do the things that you all will enjoy the most, and then say “no” to extra activities. Talk with your family about finances. Even young children can learn how to budget for gifts and holiday activities.

As you enjoy the holiday season, do your best to limit stress. Don’t expect everything to go as planned. Your child may get sick during the holiday, the oven might break as you are cooking a special dinner or a storm may prevent relatives from visiting. When these things happen, let the family help decide on a new plan. For example, if the electricity goes out, grab your flashlights and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Use cookie cutters to cut them into fun shapes! Teaching your children to have a sense of humor and be flexible, when things don’t go as planned, is a wonderful gift.

Plan quiet time or at least downtime from activities. Take a few moments to read a book, take a bubble bath or sit down and listen to your favorite songs. Don’t get too caught up in the hype of the holidays. Breathe your way through it, select what YOU want to do, and enjoy!

—Source: Dartmouth University

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