Welcome to the holiday season! A time that is “supposed to be” cheerful and joyful but can also bring on feelings of anxiety, depression and stress for everyone, including our teens. We are living in very challenging times as we are still navigating COVID-19. For some, gatherings with loved ones may still not be possible while for others this may be a return to larger gatherings after more than a year apart. These gatherings can be stressful for teens as they manage family expectations and think about the losses they have experienced over the last year. Here are four ways to help support your child during the holiday season.
- Keep a schedule
The holiday season can be very fast-paced with many holiday festivities planned. This can be overwhelming and stressful for teens. Keeping a schedule of holiday festivities and allowing your teens a voice and choices in their own schedules can make it more manageable for the whole family. Be sure to plan for downtime and rest! Give time for teens to go outside and get some sun (or snow), exercise, watch a movie or do other fun and restful activities.
- Talk with your teens
It is important to listen to what your teens are saying and not saying. It can be easy to dismiss their worries as trivial compared to worries and stressors of adults and parents. Take the time to listen to what may be causing them feelings of stress or worry. It may be an upcoming event, interacting with family members, school troubles, or financial worries. Acknowledge their feelings and strategize together in dealing with whatever is causing them stress. This can help normalize their feelings and learn skills to manage their stressors.
- Acknowledge the losses
The holiday season is a time to be grateful for what we have but it can also remind us of those we have lost. Find ways to honor and remember those you are missing during the festive season. It can also be a time to recognize the other losses we have all experienced this past year. Reflect with your teens on the challenges and losses they have experienced. It is okay to grieve the loss of normalcy during this time.
- Focus on gratitude
Keep the focus on gratitude during this holiday season. It is important to acknowledge our losses but also recognize that there is still a great deal to be grateful for and appreciate. Help your teens identify something they are grateful for every day. It can be a family reflection activity or a new tradition to incorporate in the festivities.
The holiday season can be a stressful time even in the best of circumstances. As we continue to navigate our lives during a global pandemic it is important to recognize that not all stress or anxiety is bad. Some stress and anxiety can motivate us to do the things we need or want to do. However, if you feel that your teen or yourself are experiencing an overwhelming amount of stress or anxiety, or feelings of depression, it is important to reach out to a professional.