The Holiday Season is here and people are stressing about buying gifts and spending the day with relatives. For many people this Holidays are a happy time and for others it is a stressful time. The Holidays can be stressful because they may bring up family issues that have not been resolved yet or everyone is trying to make the day prefect that it becomes a stressful day not a happy one. Also parents are concerned how their children will act around the entire family and what will happen if their child receives a gift they do not want?
Thanksgiving has passed and now we have Christmas. Parents you can start by looking at what occurred on Thanksgiving. Overall we’re you happy with it or are there somethings that you would like to change?

Next after you have assessed how the day went sit down with your children and ask for their opinions. Also ask about what their expectations are for Christmas. It is especially important to discuss this point with teenagers. Are they expecting to spend Christmas Eve and Day with the family or are they expecting to spend time with friends and girlfriends or boyfriends. It is important to settle this issue before Christmas. By discussing expectations and trying to accommodate everyone’s wishes, you can avoid arguments. However, many times you cannot accommodate everyone’s wishes and as the parents you may need to make the judgement call. If this occurs explain to your teenager you know they may be mad, but you hope they can understand and you would appreciate their cooperation. May be you make arrangements for them to spend time with their friends the day before or after Christmas.

The next discussion is gifts. Explain to your children the point of Christmas is to appreciate and to be grateful for the people in your life and what you do have in your life. Therefore, if your grandparents give you something you do not like, be grateful that they thought about you and say thank you. Try not to make faces or act disappointed and hurt your grandparents feelings. Again remind them the Holidays are a time to be grateful for what you have in your life. 

Reminding your children about being grateful leads us into the next tip for decreasing Holiday Stress. Lori Lite who writes about stress uses the acronym G-R-A-T-E-F-U-L as her Holiday stress guide. It helps her and others get through the day in a peaceful manner. Each letter reminds you of something to do or a way to view the day so you do not get upset.

So here is how to use Gratitude as your Holiday Stress Reliever.  

G- Gratitude is the opposite of stress. It is difficult to feel stressed out when we are feeling gratitude.
R- Relax your expectations and let the day unfold. You might be surprised by the outcome.
A- Acceptance is the opposite of judgment. If we accept our family member for who they are and what they are capable of we can relax and enjoy ourselves.
T- Teens can be a part of the Holidays. Ask them what they would like to contribute to the evening or day. Let them what they feel they can contribute.
E- Empower children and let them help with age appropriate assignments. Putting the nuts out or making the centerpiece. Let them do it their way…not your way.
F– Focus on family for this day. Put all work and worries on the shelf
U– Unplug the electronics for dinner so that everyone can be fully present.
L- Love is often overlooked when we are busy. Be present with love… Speak with love… Show your love and gratitude for your family during this Holiday time.
This might seem very simple and obvious, but at times the best solutions are rather simple. Also you may want to practice using this in your daily life. It may seem simple, but it may be harder to do than you think because you are accustomed to doing things and viewing life in a certain way. This idea may challenge you to reassess how you approach life in general.  

Many of us are not use to looking at our lives in terms of what we have to be grateful for. Also many of us have a hard time relaxing and not worrying about work or other things we need to do. I have found that just being in the moment is difficult for most people. Most of us believe we always have to be doing something. This creates stress and disappointment. Finally, since we feel we must always be doing something, disconnecting from cellphones and other electronics can be very difficult for the children and for adults too. However, think about it? How can you have fun and enjoy the day with your family, if your mind is not fully present? You can’t. Furthermore, this can create tension for others because they feel ignored and for you because you feel they don’t respect how important what you are doing at the moment is to you. As a result, you have stress which can turn into an argument and everyone is upset. A day of happiness becomes a day of anger and disappointment.
If you notice you are getting angry or your teenager is getting angry use the acronym HALT:
H – hunger, do not try to discuss a difficult situation if you or your teen are hungry.
A – anger, if it is obvious someone is angry give them time to calm down before discussing an issue. Pushing a discussion when someone is angry will only result in making a bad situation worse.
Lonely – lonely, if someone is feeling down or alone again pushing them to talk can make it worse. Let them know when they are ready you are there to listen.
Tired – tired, trying to have a conversation with a tired teenager can turn into an argument fast. Wait until they are ready to talk. There is no need to make a bad situation worse.

Therefore, in order to avoid the possibility of an unpleasant Holiday for everyone try to

 use the words GRATEFUL and HALT as guidelines for the day. What do you have to lose?

Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in working with children, teenagers and their families. He has over 19 years experience. For more information about his work or private practice visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or visit his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/drrubino3.

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