Snow is falling, the tree top is glistening, and thick, down outerwear has made its annual debut.
Winter is here and the most festive of holidays is just around the corner. While of course you’re appreciative of wintertime for bringing the family together, you might be having flashbacks that bring a less than jolly feeling.
Something about this time of year just seems to have a greater importance to modern society. Extra hours are worked, more events fill your calendar than ever, there is even an entire separate category for home cooked meals dedicated to the holiday season! There’s no denying the holidays are special, but the stress of the holidays can definitely take a toll on you and your loved ones, who are spending more time together than any other season of the year. If it’s been difficult in the past making the family get along, you’re not alone.
The holiday season brings mixed feelings for all of us. Feelings of good tidings and joy are surely visitors around Christmas time, but for some families, the holidays bring “gifts” stress and frustration to you and your family. While holiday music surely paints a jolly picture, happy families aren’t always the norm come wintertime.
That being said, the holidays are special because of all the opportunity you have to enjoy time with your family and loved ones. We’ve got some advice to share about how happy families truly do make this season the most wonderful time of the year.
Mental & Emotional Health Benefits of Unplugging From Technology
While there is a lot of concern surrounding millennial generation’s lack of audible conversation, adults are just as guilty. Parents spend a comparable amount of time burying themselves into phones and tablets for work to meet after hours deadlines, firing off emails and scheduling meetings.
While as therapists & counsellors we don’t recommend bringing work home with you during your holiday vacation, we understand that it happens, though your children might reflect your behaviour.
It’s important to keep in mind that many children pickup their technology habits from their parents. The weather outside may be frightful, but the fire is so delightful because it keeps happy families inside. This is a golden opportunity for some quality bonding time while everyone is under the same roof, but it’s a wasted opportunity with too many digital distractions.
It may be unrealistic to set a totally tech-free expectation to your holiday gatherings, but low-tech is an easily adaptable balance. Schedule certain times for unplugging, download-free quality time and commit to the guidelines. There may be an overwhelming majority of attendees willing to unplug for the night!
Doing Christmas Activities Together – A Mental Health Boost
Hint: It doesn’t take wi-fi to trim the Christmas tree!
Remember all the wintertime activities you treasured as a kid, before cell phones and computers were around? Chances are you have such fond memories of these activities because A) they were fun, and B) spending time with our parents was simple and heartwarming. Happy families do Christmas activities together. Christmas activities don’t always have to cost a fortune, either, it just takes a little creativity.
For starters, there are probably enough Christmas movies out there to last you the entire month of December. Gather the gang for a night of your favorite frosty films and cuddle up on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn, mugs of hot cocoa and apple cider under a cozy blanket.
Check out this ultimate list of Christmas movies to get in the spirit, and draw them one by one out of a Santa hat. Happy families watch Christmas movies together.
Playing In The Snow – Fight the Winter Blues & Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you’ve laughed one too many times at Will Ferrel in an Elf costume eating candy-coated spaghetti (if that’s even possible), maybe it’s time for some outdoor fun.
Bundle up from head to toe, and feast your eyes on the fresh falling snowflakes on a snowy day.If you’re a crafty group, you can gather the materials to make a fresh wreath, find a hill for sledding or even chop down your own Christmas tree.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but snowball fights can definitely help happy families. Play fair – and safe – but show your kids the tricks you learned when you were their age. On second thought, before your snowball fight, get prepared.
Take a hands-on approach and let everyone’s imaginations soar by covering a nearby park or field with the ultimate snowball fight scene. Family members and friends of all ages can come together for this picture worthy event with hand crafted barricades, snow tunnels, mini igloos and snow walls. Teach the kids how to make snowballs, and most of all, have fun watching them play. Happy families get creative together.
If you’re still having a tough time getting everyone to smile, give them a reason to turn their frowns upside down.
Everybody say “cheese!”, it’s time for a Christmas photo shoot! Fresh fallen winter snow is beautiful to look at, and so are happy families playing and posing in front of it. You’ll be able to use the photos for so many things – annual holiday cards, thank you cards (to shop appreciation for the gifts you receive during the holidays), photo albums, and sent to extended family members who can’t be there with you would love the thought you’ve put into reaching out to them.
Start Family Traditions to Promote Positive Mental Health
Every family has their own special set of traditions they can depend on year after year. While you will always have the set you share with your parents, it’s important to build your own holiday rituals as you raise your own happy families. If there were traditions you didn’t like as a kid, this is your chance to start something new, and build those heartwarming dependable rituals in your home.
Traditions don’t always have to be, well, traditional; they come in all shapes, sizes and varieties just as unique as your special family. For instance, some families play “Hide The Pickle”. Haven’t heard of it?
Think of this as a Christmas version of an easter egg hunt. You may have browsed the ornament section at your favorite homeware store, and seen cute little green pickle ornaments – they’re precisely made for this game! The first child to find the tiny green Christmas Pickle on the very green Christmas tree wins a reward and good fortune for the following year. Games like these make great traditions for your families and friends of all ages.
As we mentioned before, this is also a great opportunity to try starting traditions in your family that you may have felt, *ahem* deprived of, with your family growing up. Never strung popcorn on a thread and adorned it on your tree? Now is your chance!
Take the leftovers from your movie night and have all the salty-stringed fun you want. If the family is getting a bit rowdy, calm them down with a little road trip around the neighbourhood to gaze at all the lovely christmas lights and decorations The Joneses would even be jealous of. Nowadays, some houses even time their lights with special music!
And speaking of music, have you ever gone caroling? A wise elf once said “The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear” , we have a feeling that happy families become happier when they spread cheer to other families.
Emotional Benefits of Family Memories
If all else fails. resort to food.
While as therapists and counsellors we must caution against over-eating, especially if a family member has an eating disorder. comfort food and the holidays go hand in hand.
The holiday memories most of us remember revolve around the dinner table, and how happy families are when they can share a blessed meal together.
Have a pre-Christmas party party to decorate Christmas cookies in all the traditional shapes and flavors (peppermint everything!) we’ve designated to the holiday season. Everyone can decorate cookies and gingerbread houses with colored icing and small candies and gumdrops. And don’t forget to leave a plate of them with a glass of milk for Santa.
The holidays are a great time to make memories teaching your children about their culture, and where the rest of their happy families comes from. Maybe your culture has a certain stew this time of year, or a type of bread you all crave – sesame challah, anyone?
You’ve also probably noticed that certain side dishes make special appearances for these traditional meals – your aunt’s green bean casserole is part of your holiday meal memory too, we know you crave it year round! Happy families make memories, often times with mouths and bellies full.
With so many ways to bring the family closer together, there’s one trick to it all: spending quality time together. Happy families come in all shapes, sizes and flavours during the holiday season.
No matter how stressed you may be about finding the right present, or making the house perfect for all to see, remember it’s the thought that counts. At the end of the day, you’re at home for the holidays to share the love with your family and spend some quality time together.