Want to Reduce Family Holiday Stress?
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Want to Reduce Family Holiday Stress?
Although holiday time means presents and no school for most American kids, it
can also be a stressful time - particularly with so many families facing
financial hardship, in families where there's a recent loss of a loved one, and
with the challenges faced by split or blended families.
Family stress is going up. According to the American Psychological
Association's survey, Stress in America 2010, 73% of parents report family
responsibilities as a top stress. 32% of parents report their stress is extreme
(8 on a 10 scale). Most parents realize they are living with unhealthy stress
levels: 69% know it's important to manage their stress, but only 32% say they
are doing a very good job of it.
Children know when their parents are having a hard time, and it does affect
them: 47% of tweens and 33% of teens feel sad when their parents are stressed;
36% of tweens and 43% of teens worry; and 25% of tweens and 38% of teens feel
frustrated when experiencing their parents in such a state.
Now is the perfect time to start turning family stress around. Here are 7
simple holiday stress-reducing strategies that can make a difference - holiday
time or any time.
(1) Visualize a heart-filled holiday. You can do this one at the dinner table.
Have everyone in the family close their eyes, focus on their heart, and imagine
what kind of holiday will bring joy into their hearts. Then share your ideas
around the table. This helps kids feel listened to, cared for, and included.
(2) Give the gift of calmness. Ancient wisdom and modern research point to the
calming effects and health benefits of slow, deep breathing. Make a regular
practice of taking 1 to 5 minutes each day of relaxing "balloon breathing."
Breathe in to a count of 3 about 2 inches below the navel, imagining there's a
balloon filling up with air, and out to that same slow count. It'll center and
rebalance every family member to face the joys and inevitable disappointments
of the holiday season.
(3) Offer distress a voice. If this is your child's first holiday without a
loved one - grandpa passed away, or big sister is in Afghanistan - younger
family members may feel a deep sense of loss. Or maybe your child is feeling
the stress of a recent divorce. Give her paper and markers, and ask her to draw
whatever is making her sad or mad. Then ask her what the picture wants to say
out loud. Often, putting a face on an emotion and letting it "speak" makes a
child feel better - and gives a parent a way to understand what's going on
(4) Sweat is sweet. Kids (and adults) can get all pent up during holiday time.
Surprise little ones by clearing the furniture out of the center of the room,
turning on some fun music, and dancing vigorously for 10 minutes. Or bundle up
the family and take a wintry walk while playing "I Spy." Exercise releases
feel-good chemical and is one of the fastest ways to chase away holiday blahs
and instill a sense of togetherness.
(5) Blow out negativity, light up hope. Create a family ritual of hope. Have
two candles for each family member: one lit, one not. Have each imagine what
they'd like to let go of - what no longer serves them - and say, "I'm going to
toss this out (anger, worry, meanness to my sister) when I blow this candle
out." Then light a new candle and share, "I hope to bring in (kindness, faith,
cleaning my room) as I light anew." Let go of the old and bring in the new. You
can use one candle to symbolize all, or light up your whole home with several.
(6) Be grateful for who you live with. Avoid some of the little and big
jealousies that crop up from comparing who has a bigger present or counting how
many gifts go to whom by starting early and giving gifts of appreciation - to
each family member. Take the whole month of December (or start at Thanksgiving)
and every day have each person share something they appreciate about another
(big brother allowing younger sister to hang out in his room). Make a running
list and post on the fridge or in the family room to remind each other when
stresses build that you really do care about and love each other.
(7) Spread the joy around. The time-honored tradition of helping others can
shift priorities. If kids or teens are moping around or showing signs of
stress, take them to the local soup kitchen to serve meals. Visit a nursing
home with hand-made cards or offer a free concert. Helping others gives kids a
feeling of more control and a sense of being both useful and appreciated.
Learn more about how you can help the children in your life develop
stress-busting techniques. Read The Power of Your Child's Imagination: How to
Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success (Perigee/Penguin).
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I'm thrilled to bring back this special offer at holiday time. It's so
important to teach each family member the skills to navigate the challenges of
life to be happy and healthy. I hope you take advantage today and give all the
parents and children in your life the gift of deep relaxation and self-love.
Holiday Gift Packs for Kids and Parents
Kids Gift Pack: Empower your child with easy, effective, and creative skills
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Listen to audio samples
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With love and light,
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About Dr. Charlotte Reznick
Charlotte Reznick PhD specializes in helping children and adolescents develop
the emotional skills necessary for a happy and successful life. She is a
licensed educational psychologist and Associate Clinical Professor of
Psychology at UCLA. Dr. Charlotte is the creator of Imagery For Kids^TM:
Breakthrough for Learning, Creativity, and Empowerment and is the author/
producer of several therapeutic CDs for children, teens, and parents. An
international workshop leader on the healing power of children's imagination,
she maintains a private practice in Los Angeles, California. Visit
THE POWER OF YOUR CHILD'S IMAGINATION
Bring Dr. Charlotte to your School or Organization... available worldwide
Give the gift of the Nine Imagination Tools to develop inner resources to be
happy and healthy and thrive in the 21st Century.
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Holistic Answers to Mental Health
Host Aileen Nealie
10:00-11:00 am (Pacific)
(Link to show)
Mom's the Word
Holiday Stress Busters
KLZ 560 AM (Denver, CO)
Hosts Maura Ridder & Maureen Brown
2:00-2:10 pm (Pacific)
3:00-3:10 pm (Mtn)
5:00-5:10 pm (East)
(Link to show)
COMING IN 2011
Turning Point School
Culver City, CA
Roosevelt Elem. School
Santa Monica, CA
5:00-6:00 pm (Pacific)
8:00-9:00 pm (East)
Host Iris Benrubi
Workshop at Conference
California Psychological Assn.
Hilton San Diego - Mission Bay
11:00 am - 12:30 pm
San Diego, CA
(Link to conference)
Dr. Reznick can help; call (310) 889-7859 for more information.
Imagery For Kids | 11911 San Vicente Blvd. | Suite 240 - Brentwood | Los
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