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Taking the Stress and Anxiety Out of the Holiday Break

The Holiday break is an exciting time for students, free from school and work, full of family traditions, parties, gift-giving, and fun.  Children look forward to this magical time of year, but for parents, it often leads to stress and dread. The break from their daily routine can often lead to anxiety for youth and adults. Adults, as well as children, rely on the stability of day-to-day routine as part of their mental health care.

For many, the holiday season brings travel, visits from family, parties, food, and friends. For others, it brings stress, loneliness, isolation, anxiety, and depression. Here are some things to help minimize the effects of the holiday season chaos, to improve your family’s mental health.

  1. Keep some part of your schedule the same each day. You might get up at the same time and have breakfast together as you would during the school year.
  2. Try not to over schedule, allow time to relax and spend quality time as a family. It is okay to say “No” when feeling overly stressed
  3. Look for signs that you or your child are overstimulated and have a backup plan when it gets to be overwhelming. 
  4. Make family and friends aware of any special needs your child may have. This allows for more kindness and patience when an overly stressed child acts out.
  5. Allow your child to have input on the holiday plans and the people they would like to see.
  6. Find positive ways to keep kids occupied. They’ll feel happier and better behaved when they are actively engaged in an activity, such as family projects and traditions.
  7. Having realistic expectations for both children and adults can help lessen the stress and anxiety the season brings. No one has a perfect Instagram-worthy holiday break! Try not to set unattainable expectations for yourself or your children. Set parameters on gifts and vacation plans ahead of time to avoid any unexpected disappointment.
  8. For many, the holidays heighten already present anxiety and depression symptoms. It is good to be aware of this and check in often to making sure symptoms aren’t worsened during the extended break. 
  9. Look for opportunities to help and serve others as a teaching experience and a way to encourage gratitude for the gifts and experiences they received this year.

    Consider these simple tips to help your family have a happy and meaningful holiday season.

Benée Larsen      
Program Director, Prevention by Design

National Alliance on Mental Illness-Utah

Contact for local mental health resources. https://namiut.org/

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