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How to wind down from Christmas overload

The holidays are a festive time for making happy memories, but they’re also a source of stress for the entire family. Learn how to wind down, dodge the winter blues, and help your children maintain reasonable expectations about the holidays.

Mom and daughter making Christmas cookies

This holiday season, emotions are more fragile than ever. With tragedies on our minds and the holiday churning toward us, it’s a recipe for anxiety, depression and stress. Learn how to wind down and stay healthy this Christmas.

Manage kids’ expectations

Little ones can get frenzied when it comes to presents and the holidays. In these tough economic times, as surely all of us are tired of hearing, it may not be a year for big-ticket gifts. Manage your kids’ expectations by frequently and gently reminding them that the holidays are about giving and making memories, not about receiving toys. Focus on the time you spend together instead of the gifts you exchange. Be festive without falling into the trap of the holiday becoming overly commercial. Try free activities like looking at public lighting displays and watching holiday movies at home together. Ask your kids to help with holiday crafts and cooking and start a tradition of working together on holiday cards and letters.

Don’t over schedule your holidays

While the kids are out of school, don’t over schedule your family. Say no to a holiday party or two, and consider staying in town instead of traveling during this busy travel season. Try to maintain a routine and peace in the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Structure your family’s time to include quiet periods and very simple meals. Order a pizza if it means skipping meal prep and dishes and spending that time relaxing and catching up after the holiday crunch.

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kid on sledAvoid cabin fever

Don’t get stuck in a rut when the kids are out of school. Try to get them outside and active as much as the weather permits. When you have time, play with your kids and embrace the fun of winter break. Even if you have to work, you can let loose a little and spend more time than usual with your children doing what they like to do. Similarly, give yourself some free time and play time. Read the novel you got for Christmas or spend some quality time with bubble bath and those scented candles from your stocking. You’re earned the chance to relax.

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Cut yourself some slack

It’s OK to be overwhelmed or flat-out depressed during the holidays. Be kind to yourself and keep in mind that this year more than ever, you’re exposed to not only your family’s stress but the inherent stress of a nation in grief and turmoil. It’s normal to have feelings of guilt, sadness or letdown during the holiday season. Allow yourself to cry and lean on trusted friends and family members when you need a break or just need a hug. Always talk to your doctor if you feel overwhelmed by your own feelings of sadness or anxiety. Help is available and you should never suffer alone.

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