How to help kids deal with stress this holiday season

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The holidays bring a lot of memories – family, parties, food, the gifts, and most likely some stress. While the hustle and bustle are a normal part of the holiday time routine – you still need to be cautious with keeping holiday stress in check, according to Dr. Travis Mickelson, associate medical director of mental health integration for Intermountain Healthcare.

The holidays engage our senses – with the lights, warmth, good smells and music for example – the background noise of everyday life becomes amplified which can make us feel overwhelmed.

It’s important to find time and a quiet space. Even for a few minutes to take care of yourself, said Dr. Mickelson.

There are extra demands that are asked of you during the holidays. But know it’s OK to say “no, thank you” to a neighborhood party, to a get-together with friends, or to a volunteer request. This is showing grace for yourself, and that’s a good thing, he added.

There are other ways to keep holiday stress in check. Techniques involving breathing, mindfulness and meditation can be helpful – even kids can learn them.

When you are feeling frustrated, angry, sad or hurt – notice how you feel, accept and lean into it. Also, don’t keep it to yourself and talk about it with others.

Here are some tips on how to handle holiday stress:

For kids, stress can come from peers getting big, fancy gifts when they’re not. Sometimes, kids see this in social media, or when they return from the school break.

  • Communication is key. Acknowledge that sometimes, it’s hard to not get the biggest most expensive thing. But we just can’t afford those types of things.
  • Parents, remember that you don’t have to go broke to prove you love somebody. It’s OK to look for other opportunities to connect with your children over the holidays.
  • Take a break from social media. Sometimes, the perfect images are staged, and yet these images can make us feel excluded, or that our lives are somehow not as good as others. Turning it off can be a freeing experience.

For more information visit Intermountain Healthcare.

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