If you have a loved one struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, the festive period can be especially difficult to manage. The perfect storm of pressure, family relations, extra events and the comparison factory of social media can get especially overwhelming over the holidays, and young people can be particularly sensitive to the disruption in routine that this can bring. With so much going on, how do you support your loved ones and especially teens struggling with the pressures of adolescence during the festive break?
Ease Up The Pressure
Many of us ramp the perfect Christmas myth up to impossible heights in a well-meaning quest to give our children everything that can quickly backfire. It’s a time when parents are under a lot of pressure themselves – financial, social and self-generated – and it’s all top easy to pass this onto our kids without really meaning to. Don’t expect or demand perfect behaviour from them – a little tiredness and over-excitement is very normal! Build some down time into your festive schedule so that your teens have time to relax and spend some time by themselves if they find all the family engagements too much. Try to appreciate the day for what it is and don’t allow yourself to build it all up too much or pass these messages on to your teen.
Get Smart On Delegation
The Christmas celebrations can be especially tough on teens as they may struggle to find their place in it all as they get older. Thinking themselves too old to get wrapped up in all the childish excitement with younger siblings and cousins (even if they secretly want to!) and too young to join in with the adults, they can quickly feel out of place. Help bridge the gap – and ease some of the pressure on yourself – by delegating specific jobs for them to do, in the run-up and also on the day itself. Put them in charge of organising the tree decoration , making the sauces for dinner or even putting together a festive playlist. Allocating them something to do gives them a role in the celebrations and helps them to feel included at a time when many teens experience feelings of alienation.
Make Time To Talk
The festive season can get very busy, very quickly, but if your teen has been struggling with behavioural issues it’s a good idea to make some time for a proper talk with them, and if needed, figure out a plan to support them. Whether this is as simple as spending some one on one time or whether a more serious step is needed, such as counselling or even, in extreme cases, a teen drug addiction treatment center, or another wellness facility. Taking the time to really talk through any issues that your teen is experiencing in a very non-judgmental way can make the world of difference.
Keep A Routine
Although we sometimes don’t recognise it, routine is a comfort in our lives, and especially for teens when everything else can feel like it’s changing, even if they also chafe against it at times. Plan to keep some elements of the usual family routine the same, and if you’re hosting lots of guests, let them know about your plans in advance.