Handling the holidays: A guide to health and happiness

Holidays can be joyful or anxiety producing, depending on how you plan for the occasions. (Image courtesy of Flickr user Antonio Castagna.)

The holidays are just around the corner and with them come the expectations and pressures associated with the festivities. You can make this season a time for celebration, rather than one of stress, by following these tips from Parenting Journey’s Ellie Zambrano.


Find time for yourself

“The most important thing is that all of us can do a lot better at taking care of ourselves,” Zambrano said, highlighting the significance of keeping mental balance. “We’re a culture in which the emphasis is on giving, and that’s also important for ourselves as well.” Be sure to find time for relaxation or practicing mindfulness activities.


Revive family traditions

The holidays can trigger memories of lost loved ones, but you can honor them by reinventing old traditions.

“My stepfather was a strong figure, and he was a big part of our holidays. He passed away eight years ago,” Zambrano said. “He orchestrated the meals and what was going to happen. Our family selects recipes that were infamous because of him to make sure his memory is present, rather than getting stuck on loss.”


Maintain healthy relationships

Keep positive social connections and avoid problematic interactions that could increase stress levels. Plan in a way that sets limits around how much exposure you are creating.


Cherish the moments

Families need time together in order to thrive, Zambrano said. Seek out rituals to practice as a family to bond and connect with each other.

“One of the things we do in my family is we sit around the table and offer things that we’re thankful for,” Zambrano said. “It’s a way that we honor and reflect on what has happened over the year.”

Parenting Journey is a 35-year-old organization based in Somerville that aims to develop safe, resilient families. Its programs are designed to build healthier families by offering a strengths based approach, valuing self-reflection and providing a unique curriculum. Classes provide parents with skill sets and tools for nurturing children and making responsible choices.

Happy holidays!

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