December 7, 2010

Managing Teen Holiday Stress

While flipping through a newsletter recently I came across an article about teens and holiday stress. I know some people are thinking, "What does a teen have to be stressed about, especially during the holidays?"

Some of the causes of stress are the same for adults, but the one that got my attention was, "Many teens feel empty because holidays are not the same as when they were young kids." Awww. I never thought of it like that before. In addition, the holidays can be especially difficult for teens affected by loss or divorce, and the extra expectation of holiday spirit may just be too much.

Teens can try many of the regular things we think of to fight stress: eat right, get enough sleep, and slow down. Here are two more ideas: 

Let go of ideas of perfection. When my kids were younger I had ideas of exactly how Christmas morning should be - the perfect tree, matching outfits, visits with Santa.... It was exhausting - for all of us. Now, I just don't care about those things. Wear sweats to Grandma's? Pizza for Christmas breakfast? Whatever. 

To do something charitable. There is something rewarding about doing a nice thing for someone else. Fortunately, my kids are good at seeing these opportunities, whether it's a $5 gift for the toy drive or taking an extra candy cane for a friend. I think it's important for teens to be the recipient of something charitable too - being on the receiving end helps them to think of ways to pay it forward.

If you're interested in reading the whole article you can find it at the Rhode Island Department of Health.

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