This is such a difficult time of the year. The holidays are stressful for me, my partner and for my two adopted children. Can you give me some tips to help me cope during the holiday season?
— Feeling frazzled in Fillmore
For kids that have spent time in the child welfare systems, the holidays can be a time of heightened emotions. This might be a time that they particularly miss their birth family if they are no longer living with them or have lost con-tact with birth family. Possibly, the holiday sea-son is a time a child remembers past holidays filled with moments of joy, but it can also be a time that a child has memories of parents fighting and this being the season of scary times.
During the stress of the holidays, your child needs you more than ever to be a safe haven of emotional and physical security. To truly attend to the needs of your child during this stressful season, you must handle your own stress, known as emotional dysregulation. Below are some possibilities for increasing your own emotional and physical well being.
1. AWARENESS: unless you are aware of that which (dysregulates), stresses you, you cannot create an environment that supports your well being. Make a note of any stressful current situation in your life. What is it about this situation that stresses you? Write it down and if there is something you can change then change it. If there is not then see how you can change you. Remember it is often our reaction to a situation that stresses us out as much as the situation itself. If your reaction is out of fear, anger or anxiety, choosing instead to stop before you react and taking three deep breaths, calms your mind and your body. Your reaction is causing your stress response to activate. We can calm ourselves simply through our breath.
2. EVERY HOUR: Set your timer or alarm on your computer or phone to provide a soft, soothing reminder every hour of the day. When the alarm goes off, take five con-scious breaths breathing in relaxation and well being on the inhale and letting out stress, tension and anxiety on the exhale. This will help to calm you. Plus, stretch and move your entire body as well. Doing this every hour will make a big difference throughout your stress filled day to help you to stay calmer.
3. Sleep Well and Rest Daily: Sleep deprivation keeps your nervous system on high-alert and your cortisol levels high. This keeps you feeling anxious throughout the day. If you do not sleep well at night, rest during the day if you can, even for 30 minutes. This will bring your relation chemicals back to target.
4. Time Out: Not for your kids, but for you if needed! If you are at the point of blowing, you have permission to give yourself a time out. Let your children or loved ones know you will be back, that you just need to walk away for a few minutes. That is much less damaging than what you might say or do if you do not take this time out.
5. Triple A’s: Affection, attention, attunement: Your kids need the three A’s every day, but so do you. Create rela-tionships that are full of affection, that provide you the attention you need, and that are attuned to your needs and wants.