The holidays are a busy time of year for most of us – even in the mile high city. Between the kids’ school celebrations, work holiday parties, and gatherings with friends and family all over the Denver metro area… it’s hard to juggle everything while trying to support your mental health.
Holiday Stress Impacts the Entire Family
Stress and anxiety can impact little ones navigating the holidays as well. Routines are off, expectations are high (who’s on the naughty list…), and the ambient stress has a way of affecting children too. That’s why prioritizing mental health for yourself, and the kiddos alike, should be a staple in any parent’s health care plan for the entire family.
As your trusty integrative pediatrician, we are here to help with a holistic approach to managing stress during the holidays. And if these tips aren’t enough to keep the family zen into the New Year, reach out to our offices for complementary and alternative options for stress management.
And, eliminate the traditions that have hung around just for tradition’s sake. Your mental health will benefit when you are excited about the activities you’re planning for. Plus, fewer activities means your family can fully immerse themselves without the stress of a full schedule.
Eat healthy (when you can).
What we eat has an evidence based impact on mental health. Try to balance out the extra sweets with healthy, protein rich meals that resemble those you enjoy throughout the year. The holidays are fun, and Grandma Betty’s homemade pie is delicious, but remember balance is key.
The holidays are a tough time to hit the gym, but that’s okay! Squeeze in activity when and where you can. The endorphins will help your mental health. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t maintain your normal schedule — be proud you squeezed it in!
While alcohol is typically present at holiday dinners and parties throughout the United States, it’s important to be mindful of how much you are drinking. Alcohol is a depressant and may work against your efforts for sound mental health. The CDC recommends two drinks or less for men/day and one drink or less for women/day.
Rest & Recharge.
The busy holiday schedule makes this one tricky, but it’s incredibly necessary when taking care of your mental health. Put placeholders in your calendar for moments that you can take a break to meditate, read a book, journal, or listen to your favorite music.
The holidays can be full of abundance, but make sure to set the intention to give thanks for the things that really matter. Health. Family. Friends. Make the list that matters most to you.
Setting limits on friends and family interactions can be a good way to protect time for relaxing and recharging. If the kiddos need to be in bed at a certain time, or you know you can only tolerate politics-talk for so long, speak up. The holidays are for everyone, but that doesn’t mean to you have invest your energy in places, or with people, who don’t fill you up.
If all else fails, in a moment of stress, stop and take a deep breath. Fill your belly with air, then let it out through your mouth. Do this a few times to calm yourself down. Both integrative and conventional medicines agree — a deep breath can do wonders for you mental health.
Managing your own stress is a great way to teach children, through example, how to manage their own stress in life. Though the weight of the holidays is different for little ones (they’re not wrapping gifts at midnight from Santa), learning how to set boundaries, rest, and practice balance are all important life skills they’ll learn along the way. This time of year could have you running across town (multiple times) — City Park, Cherry Creek, Colorado Springs, Downtown Denver, or up into the Rocky Mountains. Just remember to take a breath (and stop at the health food store for some snacks if you need to) when the traffic on I-70 gets backed up. Your kids, and their memories of the holiday season, will thank you.
At Partners in Pediatrics, we are holistic pediatricians committed to educating our Denver community with integrative and functional wellness topics to help you and your kids maintain optimal health. No pediatric care plan would be complete without mental health support during the holidays (and year round!).
As always, please get in touch with us with any questions about your child’s mental health. If you’re interested in more comprehensive advice for stress and anxiety management, please contact us and speak with our team serving patients in Denver, Littleton, Cherry Creek, and the surrounding areas of Colorado.