Dec 17, 2020
By Bina Jhaveri, Lyra Mental Health Coach
Even in a fairly uneventful year, the holidays can ramp up stress and feelings of overwhelm. But this year, those stress levels are sky-high. Parents who are working from home have already been juggling daily household chores, work tasks, and online schooling for months—and probably skimping on self-care along the way. Now, the holiday season brings fresh challenges.
Although most celebrations will be very different this year, with more virtual events than the usual crowded parties and family gatherings, the season still requires strategies for balancing it all. And I totally get it. Like many of you, I’m also a parent working from home, managing my daughter’s remote learning, and a full life with various other responsibilities. I realize it can feel exhausting and depleting. Here are some ways I’m finding warmth and light, and how you can too, no matter what your holidays look like.
Let’s start by being completely honest. Just when we thought things were going to get better, they got worse. We’re still living with the pandemic, children are still learning from home, and working from home might actually become the “new normal.”
To help myself adjust, I began to admit that stress is an inherent part of our lives, and we all have some form of it as part of our daily living. However, when stress overtakes our lives and well-being, it starts impacting concentration, focus, productivity, and performance. It can even have devastating effects on our well-being, such as burnout, loss of control, panic attacks, and even heart palpitations. So, the first step is simply to admit it’s there, and then you can begin to address it.
Time management skills can help you be more organized and feel in control of all the components of holiday planning. But that only works if you’re not trying to throw everything into the schedule, to the point where you’d need to magically stop time to get it all done. For me, it helps to be focused. What do you truly need to do each day? What do your kids need to do? Start there, and begin to see routine as your friend.
Meanwhile, consider this weekly schedule as a guideline, not one more thing to create added pressure. Be flexible, and above all, allow enough time for sleep, exercise, and meals where you can sit down and enjoy your food together.
What I’ve learned this year is that social media is not a “break” just because I’m not working while I’m scrolling. I’m not saying you need to ditch it completely, but to be more mindful about when you’re checking it and why. If you truly need a break—and we all do, every day—then step away from the screen and take one that feels nourishing and like a real reset.
For example, every hour or so, give yourself two or three minutes to breathe, stretch, smile, hydrate, and say hello to your spouse and children. Better yet, time these with your child’s class breaks and lunchtime when possible, so you get that additional time together uninterrupted. Making this a regular routine can help you ease into the holiday season feeling more relaxed and connected with one another.
It’s easy to fall into a workaholic mentality if you can sneak a look at your work email during dinner or family movie time, and with different holiday plans this year, that might feel even easier without the usual travel and events. But every time you make that switch, even for a few minutes, you disconnect from your family—and the same goes for your spouse and kids.
Set a rule about evenings being a time to relax and unwind, so you can replenish your energy for the next day. It’s a great time to go for a walk, eat dinner outdoors, play board games, read a book with your children, or simply talk to one another. Integrating this into your daily routine will not only help you reset, but also creates more relaxation going into the holidays.
Take turns with your partner or spouse in cooking dinner, completing certain household chores, running errands, or handling your child’s bedtime routine so you can both get a couple hours of downtime and focus on what matters to you individually.
With holiday tasks, make a list of what needs to happen and then divide it up, getting every family member involved. Single parents, now is the time to reach out to loved ones for a helping hand without feeling guilty or bashful.
Creating deliberate moments within your day that either energize or rejuvenate you are what I call “micro-moments.” They generate instant feelings of joy, love, self-compassion, heart-connect, and rest. Simply starting your day with a quick yet powerful morning ritual can do wonders to jump-start your day.
For example, take 15-20 minutes total and do a 5-minute guided meditation, along with a practice focused on gratitude, some luxurious long stretches, and planning your day thoughtfully. Or you might try a ritual that closes out your workday, like a short yoga sequence, starting a meal, or spending 15 minutes doing an art activity with your child. Basically, do more of what makes you feel good.
All of these tips come down to a few essential elements: Respect for your time, a focus on replenishing your energy, connecting with your family, and creating structure that makes you feel supported instead of restricted or overwhelmed. Although these can all be incredibly helpful during the holidays, consider them solid strategies that can bring you into the new year and beyond with less stress.
If you want help connecting with a therapist, Lyra can assist you. You can get started today if Lyra is offered by your employer. Sign up now.
DISCLAIMER: The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: