The GrassRoots



The holiday season is here. It is time for family get-togethers, decorating, shopping, gift-wrapping, baking and attending special events. You and your family may feel stressed because of the extra demands placed upon already busy schedules. We put too much pressure on ourselves to create the perfect family occasion.

"The three main causes of holiday stress or depression are relationships, finances and physical demands, says Sallie Lide-Hooker, a regional family and child development agent with Alabama Extension. "Sometimes emotional disappointments combined with excess fatigue and stress result in post-holiday let down. It can take us the rest of the winter to recover," she says.








Lide-Hooker offers 25 tips to help avoid stress overload and ward off the blues:

  1. Make time for yourself each day to relax and plan ahead. 
  2. Remind yourself to slow down, take three deep breaths and relax.  
  3. Check your attitude - focus on peace, love, joy and fun.
  4. Be realistic about what you can accomplish. Avoid scheduling too many extra activities and obligations. It is OK to say NO! Try these statements: "Yes, if you'll help me!," "I really can't give that the attention it deserves right now," or "I'd love to, but right now I just can't. 
  5. Don't raise your expectations too high for the holidays.
  6. Get the whole family involved. Share the work and the joy. Encourage children to keep up with their chores and responsibilities. Sharing tasks allows everyone to feel like a part of the celebration and fun.
  7. Sit down as a family and make a list of all the things that need to be done. Let them volunteer to help or delegate tasks.
  8. Make up a calendar that includes dates and times of all activities to attend, and a schedule of when tasks such as cleaning, baking and shopping need to be done.
  9. Think about cutting out some activities. Ask your family members if they really enjoy and want to continue to do certain activities. You may be surprised. What you thought was a "must do" may not really be enjoyed by most people in your family.
  10. Plan easy meals. Double batch casseroles and put one in the freezer for a quick meal.
  11. Control your holiday eating by not overeating, eating only what you really want, eating light healthy snacks and drinking plenty of water.
  12. Exercise regularly, get enough sleep and don't skip breakfast.
  13. Keep children's eating and sleep routines as close to normal as possible to prevent them from becoming cranky, overtired or getting sick.
  14. Expect young children to misbehave occasionally. Remember that they have short attention spans and tire easily. Continue to enforce rules and limits. Children need a stable and predictable world!
  15. Keep traditions and family gatherings simple. Allow for flexibility.
  16. Shop with a spending plan and gift ideas for each person. Stick to the spending limits you've set to avoid overspending. When you spend more than you can afford, you prolong the stress into the new year.
  17. Resist comparisons. Others may be able to do or give more, but more is not always better!
  18. Remember that people are more important than things, events or tasks.
  19. Focus on what you have rather than what you don't have. Count your blessings.
  20. Focus on sharing and doing for others rather than receiving (What can I do to help others?).
  21. Discuss holiday schedules and traditions ahead of time. This way, the child and all family members can plan ahead and know what to expect.
  22. When visiting, share your plans with your host/parents, so everyone knows what to expect.
  23. Realize that there will be disappointments as well as excitement and friction as well as happiness.
  24. Don't expect yourself or those around you to be at their best all the time.
  25. Laugh! Look for ways to keep humor in your life. It's good for you!


Source: Sallie-Lide Hooker, REA Family and Child Development, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, (334) 874-7269 office, (334) 201-7636 cell, Email: .