Tips to reduce families’ holiday stress

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Hundreds of dollars in spending and calendars overloaded with extra events and commitments can turn the holiday season from merry to miserable for many Americans.  Families are dynamic and they aren’t perfect. The holidays are a high-stress time due to more obligations on the calendar, the blending of cultures or families who may not get along, overwhelming financial stress, and high expectations for traditions.

National Family Week, which occurs annually during the week of Thanksgiving, is the perfect time for families to practice communication techniques before the holiday season gets busier. One way that families can spend more time together is to make an effort that encourages face-to-face time among families and friends.

Small things can make a big difference, and playing games together can be one way to find that quality time. By playing games together, family members get to know each other better, talk, laugh and be silly.

The following tips to help families manage stress during the holiday season:

• Try to celebrate one good thing each day, whether it’s getting out the door on time or taking a few minutes to chat about school or work.

• Talk with each person in the family, including children, and let them know about changes in schedules or upcoming events.

• Remember that kind words and acts go a long way. A hug or heartfelt “thanks” are meaningful and simple ways to express appreciation.

• Show respect and be nice to yourself and to family members who may be struggling with changes to routines and habits.

• Be realistic and communicate up-front about what the family can do. Identify which traditions are most important and which can be skipped or delayed, whether kids or adults can help with chores or events, and when the family plans to stay home and relax.

• Take a slow, deep breath at multiple times throughout the day.

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