The holiday season is fast approaching. Along with the cheer and tinsel, we all know it can also bring up challenges for families. When you have a teenager who is struggling with anxiety and/or depression, the hustle and bustle of the season can seem overwhelming to them and cause tension in the home. Here are some tips for setting everyone up for success during this busy time!
1. Keep your expectations for your family modest. Don’t get hung up on what the holidays are supposed to be like and how your child is supposed to feel. If you’re comparing your holidays to some abstract greeting card ideal, they’ll always come up short. So don’t worry about holiday spirit, and take the holidays – and your family– as they are.
2. Do something different. This year, does the prospect of the usual routine fill you or your teen with holiday dread rather than holiday joy? If so, don’t surrender to it. Try something different. Have Thanksgiving at a restaurant. Spend Christmas day at the movie theater. Get your family to agree to skip gifts and instead donate the money to a charity.
3. Lean on your support system– and encourage everyone to do the same. If you’ve been depressed, you need a network of close friends, family, or even mental health professionals to turn to when things get tough. Encourage your teenager to do the same thing if they are struggling. While the holiday season can be full of family gatherings, allow time for them to catch up with a supportive group of friends too!
4. Don’t assume the worst. Don’t start the holiday season anticipating disaster. If you try to take the holidays as they come and limit your expectations — both good and bad — you may enjoy them more!
5. Head off problems. Think about what people or situations trigger your holiday stress and figure out ways to avoid them. If seeing your uncle stresses you out, skip his New Year’s party and just stop by for a quick hello on New Year’s Day. You can model this behavior for your teenager, who might take a similar opportunity to set healthy boundaries.
6. Make new family traditions. People often feel compelled to keep family holiday traditions alive long past the point that anyone’s actually enjoying them. Creating a new family tradition can be a great way to involve your whole family– even those struggling– with planning for the festivities.
7. Find positive ways to remember loved ones. Holidays may remind you of the loved ones who aren’t around anymore. For those who are already struggling with depression or anxiety, this can be an overwhelmingly hard emotion. But instead of allowing everyone to just feel glum, do something active to celebrate their memory.
Summit Achievement is a program designed to help teens struggling with anxiety and depression. If you are worried about your child and looking for treatment, don’t hesitate to reach out to our admission’s team today!