The holiday season is about being with your loved ones and for many of us that feels exciting and stressful at the same time. The holidays also means many hours spent traveling, cooking, baking, gift giving, and time together. Sometimes being with our family members can increase our levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
All families struggle with various dynamics, issues, and conflicts and every family has their own set of expectations to celebrate the holiday season. When these expectations are not met or followed the amount of stress within individuals and the family group usually increases, which can lead to arguments and feelings of anger, disappointment, and sadness.
If you are struggling with mood dysregulation, the stress of the holiday months can intensify symptoms. It is important to take care of yourself so you can have positive and quality interactions with your family members.
To manage your mood during the cold, wintery months you should:
· Get an adequate amount of sleep each night
· Eat healthy meals at least three times per day
· Continue your level of physical activity (or even increase your physical activity)
· Take time individually to relax, recharge, and to engage in individual activities
· Continue to attend social activities
· Balance the amount of time you spend with others and by yourself
To increase positive interactions among you and your family members you could:
· Set aside a specified amount of time as a family to engage in an activity
· Do something creative together (cook, make crafts, play a game)
· Turn off the electronics during family time (no cell phones, televisions, tablets, computers)
· Have fun! And let the conversation happen naturally
By setting a specified amount of time for an activity you are providing structure and a clear expectation for your family. The kids are more likely to be fully engaged in the activity if they made aware of the length of the activity before it’s started. If you expect the kids to put their electronic devices away, you have to do the same and remember to have fun! Sometimes as we get older, we forget what it feels to enjoy the moments we are spending with our loved ones and instead choose to plan future events or worry about the past. The conversation will flow and happen naturally. It is easier for many children and adolescents to communicate while they are engaged in another activity (texting is not one of those activities).
Just remember all families are special and unique with their own set of rules and expectations. If you are attending a new spouse or significant other’s family event, don’t forget some of their traditions and ways of celebrating may seem different or even odd to you. Do your best to appreciate them for what they are and try your best to participate with an open and curious heart.