How to Cope with Seasonal Stress as a Family

By Youth Villages on 2nd Dec 2022

The holiday season can be such a fun, joyful time of year, but it can also be a time for added stress and anxiety, maybe even sadness over the loss of a loved one.

As adults, we’re preparing meals, appetizers, cookies for Santa, going to or hosting parties, buying gifts, for everyone from your boss to your great aunt, going to all of the local events to make sure this season is memorable – all with an expectation of perfection.

On top of all of that, this year seemingly marks for the first ‘normal’ year since 2019, so events and gatherings may pile up quickly.

While we may assume that the parents and adults are the only ones bearing all of the stress around the busy season, so can children. They pick up on our increasing anxiety and unease and may carry their own stress with semester exams, projects, recitals, and performances.

Things don’t have to be perfect.

Child Mind Institute offers great tips on how to make the holidays enjoyable and less stressful for your kids and your families.

– Talk to your kids about what they want to do. You may assume they want to do all of the events and shows exactly as you did in years past, but perhaps your kids would enjoy time at home with the decorations or helping you to bake treats for family and friends.

– Continuing the conversation with your children, prepare them for the obligations you have during the holiday season. Some things can be non-negotiable when it comes to older family members so talking to your kids about attending a Christmas program as part of their routine will help alleviate anxiety over the unknown

Very Well Family provides ideas on how to help kids handle seasonal stress.

– Setting your family up for success is always a good strategy. This can include a regular diet, with fruits and veggies, plenty of sleep, snacks that aren’t candy and down time. Most school-aged kids aren’t napping anymore, but relaxing, quiet time can be just as beneficial as an afternoon cat nap.

– Part of a successful strategy can also involve fresh air, sun on sunny days and regular movement. Keep your kids moving by enlisting their help to rake the leaves or help with outdoor lights. Bring back those neighborhood walks your family was taking during the early Covid-19 days in 2020.

Giving yourself grace during the holidays is allowed. If you don’t make every event picture-perfect, your kids likely won’t notice; they’ll only care that you were present.

Youth Villages is one of the largest providers of services to children in Tennessee and a national leader in children’s mental and behavioral health. The organization has been recognized by the Harvard Business School and U.S. News & World Report and was identified by The White House as one of the nation’s most promising results-oriented nonprofit organizations. Learn more at

Crisis services are available 24/7 if your child needs support. Call 855-CRISIS-1 or text CONNECT to 741741. If you have thoughts of suicide, contact 988 to be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

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