GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn.-- This time of year often evokes a wide range of feelings - excitement, joy, sadness, longing or all of the above. Especially for parents, any and all of those emotions often come with high levels of anxiety.
This morning, Dr. Marti Erickson, developmental psychologist and host of MomEnough.com, talked about why the holidays tend to be so stressful. She also shared some tips for reducing that stress.
Here are her suggestions:
1. Examine your expectations and scale back.
Decide which aspects of your holiday plans really bring joy to you and your family and let go of others. Maybe decorations don't need to be so elaborate. Or bakery cookies might be just as appreciated as homemade. Maybe running back and forth between different family gatherings is just too much and you want more quiet time at home.
2. In advance, tell others what you need from them.
Too often we moms become martyrs, doing everything ourselves but then resenting that no one stepped in to help. Give others (including your kids) the opportunity to contribute to the festivities, being clear about what you need them to do. Making preparations a team effort leaves more time for all of you to enjoy each other.
3. Put mini-breaks for yourself on your to-do list.
Just as you put shopping, cooking and cleaning on your list, put time for yourself on the list too -- a hot bath, a half-hour to read a good book, a walk with a friend, whatever relaxes and recharges you. If you write it down, you're more likely to do it. (Depending on the ages of your children, you may need to ask your partner or another friend or family member to help you create the time for yourself. But if you're more relaxed, everyone will have a better holiday!)
4. Include fun physical activities, preferably outdoors, in your holiday plans.
Physical activity gets your endorphins going, a natural mood booster. And research has shown that being outside in nature (yes, even in a MN winter!) reduces stress, both for children and adults. Go for a walk, go sledding or ice skating, have a snowman-building contest. This may turn out to be the most memorable holiday activity of all, with the added benefit of de-stressing the whole family!
For more ideas and parenting suggestions, visit MomEnough.com.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )