The holiday season is often a time to celebrate happy gatherings with friends and family, but for some it can represent increased stress and challenges. Adjusting to large crowds and gatherings again can leave many people feeling anxious. Balancing finances and dealing with the rising cost of living can be stressful and overwhelming.
If you are feeling a mix of anticipation and stress right now, you are not alone. Below are some tips and resources to help reduce your stress level over the holiday season.
Tips to reduce holiday stress
- Take a quiet moment to yourself and acknowledge where you’re at. Reflect on your wellbeing and be honest with yourself about how you are feeling.
- Have realistic expectations. This allows you to remain present in the moment when things don’t go as planned. Be sure to give yourself permission to be flexible.
- Hold space for conflicting emotions. Allow yourself to feel a range of emotions, without judging them. And when you feel overwhelmed, try some small, simple practices to take care of yourself like getting outside, taking some deep breaths or making time to do something you enjoy.
- Ask for help. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member, or connect with a professional.
Finding support over the holidays
If the holiday season is beginning to overwhelm you, there is help. Strathcona County, Family and Community Services offers several options for support:
- Connect with a Solutions Navigator who will listen to you, gain understanding and assist you in accessing support. Call 780-464-4044 or walking into Family and Community Services on the second floor of the Strathcona County Community Centre, no appointment needed (at no cost).
- Walk-in counselling sessions: Professional same-day counselling with no appointment needed, "pay what you can afford" services (ranging from no cost up to $90/session). Call 780-464-4044 or walk-in at Family and Community Services on the second floor of the Strathcona County Community Centre. Need immediate help? Here is a listing of 24-hour crisis contact numbers.
- Family Resource Network: access a range of free programs and services for parents, caregivers and children and youth ages 0 to 18 years.
Tips for families to prevent holiday stress
The hustle and bustle of the season can provoke mixed emotions and overwhelming stress that can affect children just as much as adults. Here are some tips to help minimize family stress and make the holidays more fun and fulfilling for everyone:
- Manage your own stress. Try to be self-aware and set aside time for yourself. Practice self-care and get enough sleep.
- As much as possible, keep routines the same. Kids do best when routines are predictable - and healthy. Do your best to stick to your regular meal and bed times.
- Manage expectations. Let kids know what they can and can't expect. Sit together and look at the calendar to discuss vacation activities.
- Keep kids active. Exercise is a known stress buster. Get active together by going outside, visiting a park, or going swimming.
- Spend time together. Try to do activities together that involve interaction like playing games or visiting a museum.
- Build some family holiday rituals. Create things you can do together every year that are meaningful and fun.
- Help others. Look for things your children can actively participate in like going through clothes in their closet to donate.
Tips for families from 7 ways to prevent holiday stress - for your children by Claire McCarthy, MD.
Free activities and events in Strathcona County
Spending time with your friends and family is a great way to feel connected and reduce stress during the holidays. Find affordable, local activities to enjoy together on Strathcona County's free activities calendar.