Tag Archive for holiday stress

9 Foods to Help You Fight Holiday Stress

The holidays are upon us and so is the stress and anxiety that often accompanies this festive time of year. It can be hard to take care of your body and your mind with things wrapping up before the years end, the shopping for others and schedule changes—that impact everyone. The most wonderful time of year is also a time when more people get sick, stressed and sad.

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How Your Holiday Stress Impacts Your Child

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Eight year-old Ali is excited that Santa Claus coming in just a few short weeks. She’s made her list, had her picture taken with him at the mall, and has tried her best to be a “good girl” this year.  With the holiday spirit in full swing, her mother expects Ali to be full of smiles and excitement.  However, she notices that Ali is more distracted and moody, quick tempered.  Her teachers are noticing that she can’t sit still in class or pay attention, and at night she complains of not being able to sleep.  What Ali is experiencing is not only the excitement of the holiday season (anticipation can mimic anxiety), but also the stress of ending of school term, a change in her daily routine, and the emotions her parents are projecting.  Mom has an end of the year report due before her holiday vacation, has to finish shopping for everyone on her list, and dad is feeling the winter blues from the nostalgic memories of his childhood and the loss of his father a few year ago.  It would be remiss to think that Ali hasn’t picked up on the stressof her parents; she has.

The media depicts the holidays as a time when families effortlessly come together, their houses look like they have been extracted from the pages of a Normal Rockwell painting, and their children are polite, grateful, and happy.  The reality is that parents are stressed about the end of another financial quarter, the
beginning of a new year, finding the right gift for everyone on their list, and managing their own emotions that come with the holidays. In fact The American
Psychological Association (APA) found that nearly three-quarters of Americans say they experience stress at levels that exceed what they define as healthy
during the holiday season; this means your kids feel it too.

Here are a few ways to help you and your family stay stress free this holiday season:

Tell your children about changes ahead of time.  Just like you did before schoolbegan this fall, tell your children ahead of time what changes going to occur and when. Keep a calendar on the refrigerator or in a place they can see it (on their eye level) with the holiday events and changes.  When you are making the calendar have them do it with you and use stickers or drawings to depict the events. “The week after next is when you will be staying with Aunt Cheryl while mom and dad are at work, remember no school this week. Maybe you guys can make cookies or go to the museum?”

Eat on a similar schedule.  Children are very sensitive to changes in schedules especially when it comes to their diets.  Studies show that kids who don’t
eat every 3 hours (this goes for many adults too) have more meltdowns, less focus, and lower blood sugar.  Make sure that they are getting meals and snacks in the same time increments as when school was in session.  So instead of waking up at 7, they may crawl out of bed at 9, make sure they are eating breakfast then and eating lunch within the same time frame as they did before .

Don’t be negative. When shopping or engaging in holiday hustle and bustle try not to complain.  You are aware of what you are getting yourself into before you even step out the door, so start off positive.  There will likely be long lines, traffic, and crowds; like every year before.  If you are
complaining about these things that you really have no control over you are teaching your children to be negative, and putting a damper on the time you
have together. Not to mention you are putting negative energy out there, making anyone around you feel down.   Make shopping fun, have your child
wait in line while you pick out something, or you wait in line while they do.  While you are in the car waiting patiently for a parking spot talk
about the gifts they’d like to find for someone, and create positive energy around this experience. If all else fails- don’t go- use the click of your mouse and buy online, you can have the little ones help with this too, get their opinions, then spend time doing something meaningful like going to the park or decorating a gingerbread house with your children.  Don’t spend these precious years with them complaining.

Make gift giving fun.  If you find yourself with a Grinch-like attitude when it comes to giving gifts to the office or your child’s teacher, or anyone for that
matter, don’t do it in front of them.  They will look at gift giving as something negative versus a meaningful, creative, thoughtful practice.
Have them help you with the presents. Ask your son “What do you think Mrs.Wilson would like this year a candle or chocolates?  Would you like to
help me pick out the wrapping paper? Tie the bow?” When your child becomes engaged in the process they are proud and often feel the excitement from the receiver.  For an even more creative touch, have them make the present, a friend of mine makes the best pumpkin bars ever.  She has her daughters
decorate the jars while she prepares the mix.  Each girl signs the jar and helps mom with the finishing touches.  The girls, who are 3 and 5 love,being a part of the process and when are proud to give the teachers their gifts.

Talk about the positives-watch what you say.  If you find yourself sulking around because the holidays remind your melancholy childhood, relatives or friends that fill you with frustration, keep it to yourself or share it with an adult- out of ear shot of your kids.  They heareverything!  “My mom thinks Mrs. XXXXX next door has tackydecorations.”  A 9 year-old tells me.  When I asked her what tackymeans she said “something bad, I don’t want to be tacky.”  Try not to focus on the negative people or the stress that is happening in your personalor work life.  Many children are not yet able to interpret this asventing; they take it in and model your behavior.  Wouldn’t it be embarrassing to hear that your nine year old was calling an adult tacky?

In the end it’s all about being grateful and teaching our children that although gifts are nice to have, love is what is really important. According to author Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project, “There is only love. If you’re heading into a difficult situation, take a moment to fill your heart with love. Think
of all the reasons that you’re grateful to your family and friends, and the happy memories you’ve shared, and how things might look from other people’s
perspectives. This can be hard to do, but it will make you happier. And if you’re happy, you’re going to be better able to make other people happy.”  Let’s teach this to our children and echo it in our lives.  The holidays are about love; let this be part of your family’s tradition.



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Keep Your Brain & Body Healthy This Winter

By: Emily Roberts, MA, LPC

Tis the season to be…Sick? Injured? Exhausted?  Let’s hope not.  As the chilly air approaches and the snowflakes begin to fall your immune system is up for a challenge.  Winter is notoriously one of the most difficult times of the year on our health.  Holiday stress takes a toll on us mentally and physically, add in a cold, dehydration, or even a hit to the head and you have yourself a rough few months.  In order to keep your family healthy this seasons our suggestions below.

Immunity Boost.  Our immune systems often take a nose dive when there is a change in temperature.  As adults, the stress of the season, end of year deadlines, and having contact with our office mates who arefeeling under-the-weather, can severely affect our body’s ability to fight off viruses. For kids, they are constantly around runny noses and germs. You know the drill one kid get the flu, and suddenly a classroom of 20 becomes 10.

- Tip: For adults and children, make sure that you are taking your vitamins consistently. Studies suggest that when taken regularly, vitamins and minerals do their job to keep us healthy and happy. When implemented at the sign of sickness, they are not built up in our immune system enough to ward off viruses. Also, it is suggested that Vitamin D, especially in the wintertime, can ward off depression and increase overall immunity.

-Tip: Remember the basics and remind children: cover your mouth/ nose when you sneeze-don’t sneeze on others, wash your hands,  use hand sanitizer, blow your nose in a tissuenot your shirt sleeve ( I really do see adults do this all the time- yuck!) .

Stay Hydrated.  Getting our H20 intake is one of the most neglected parts of our winter routine and is detrimentally to our health.  Dehydration can be just as common in the winter as in the summer. Since your body is not sweating as much as it did in those hot and humid summer months, it’s easy to overlook the signs of dehydration. A dehydrated body can lead to exhaustion, muscle fatigue, cramps, loss of coordination and even stroke.  Dehydration can also leave your body more susceptible to common colds and flu, which are both more prevalent in the winter.

- Tip: Coffee can dehydrate you big time, and although it’s tempting on a chilly day, try tea instead.  The health benefits of tea are immense. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) suggests many teas increase immunity, fight free radicals, reduce cancer risks, heart disease, and other ailments.  Tea also contains flavonoids that may help with blood vessel functionality and buildup of cholesterol. If you’re not into tea, try hot tea, sparkling water, or flavored water if regular water isn’t hitting the spot. For kiddos, cut their juice with water, and decaffeinated flavored tea such as spiced apple or honey lemon can make a great warm treat (plus many feel mature drinking tea- huge selling
point!). Read more: Howto Stay Hydrated During Winter | eHow.com

Head Injuries.  Winter sports can bring on many physical risks.  For our skiers and snowboarders out there helmet use is strongly recommended.  Long term mental issues are often systemic of childhood head injuries.  Dr. Daniel Amen’s work on traumatic brain injury has more verified this. Helmet use is associated with a 22 percent to 60 percent reduction in head injury risk, but helmets are not being used by the majority of those on the slopes. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that half of head injuries on the slopes could be prevented by helmets, but a survey of several United States ski resorts found that helmets were worn by just one in eight skiers and snowboarders. Notably, the most-skilled athletes were most likely to wear a helmet.

-Tip:  If your renting ski supplies make sure that you ask for helmets, many rental facilities do not reserve these for you unless you ask in advance.

-Tip: If your child protests, find a picture of a famous Olympic athlete cruising down the slope in their cool helmets, it will help them make a positive association with staying safe.  Also be a good role model, if you’re telling them to wear aone, and your helmet-less they are less likely to comply.

So drink up, stay safe, and be healthy this season.  You’ll enjoy hitting the slopes and building those snowmen much more with an optimal immune system- and your kids will too!

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