Five Ways to Avoid Holiday Meltdowns

Meltdowns are not a fun event, no matter what day of the year it is. Most of the time, they can be avoided, but sometimes, it’s entirely out of our control. To learn more about meltdowns, you can read The Truth About Shutdowns and Meltdowns

Give thanks

Bringing Down The Stress

The holiday season can be a stressful time- starting with Halloween and ending at New Year’s Eve. This can depend on which holidays your family celebrates- some families don’t celebrate anything at all, some celebrate everything.

Isn’t that neat? My family celebrates Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Chanukah. My mother is Jewish, so we go to her house every year to have some fun over the eight nights. It’s fun but can get a bit tiring, so we go at our own speed.

Things can be a bit more stressful if you run into family members that don’t understand your child’s special needs- especially if they don’t want to. There is a difference between not knowing and not wanting to know. This topic is a bit more detailed in Helping Your Family Understand Your Child’s Special Needs

Overall, there are ways to help your family get through the holiday season in a way that everyone can remember fondly.

Upset child

Five Golden Rings…I Mean, Tips

  1. Avoid places with crowds, loud noises, etc. Many kids with special needs do not like the line to see Santa. It’s loud, bright, and if you’re Julian, there are germs everywhere. Some kids do not do well in crowds, because it’s too cramped, things move too fast, and sensory issues can be caused by very small things that we are not aware of. Some places are becoming more aware of this and are offering sensory-friendly gatherings, so look around in your area.
  2. Be flexible. This is most likely the most important tip. Flexibility is a requirement in parenting, but in this case, there’s more of a need. Things can change in a second with our special needs kids, and this is okay. Things can become just too much for them, and they need the ability to find a quiet spot to calm down in or leave entirely. Bring two adults to events so that one can stay with the other children, bring adaptive equipment, etc.
  3. Watch out for wandering. This can occur when a child needs to escape quickly from a situation they do not want to be in- a loud party, for example. Keep an extra-close eye on your child near doors and other routes away from your location.
  4. Keep up your routine. Most kids are on a break for a week before and after Christmas. It’s important to keep up a daily routine- eating and sleeping as close to usual times as you can. Kids do better when they know what is going on. It keeps their anxiety low and they are less likely to get off-track with behaviors.
  5. Take a break if you need it. If things get to be too much for you and/or your child, it may be time for a break. Don’t go to the next party. Don’t worry about the next celebration. Stay home, watch a movie and snuggle up with your family. This can be more fun than going out and potentially creating more stress.

Christmas gifts

The holiday season is upon us, the weather is getting colder. Let’s make great memories with our families.

What tips do you have to prevent meltdowns with your kids?

Photos courtesy of Unsplash

Information from CBS

Twin Mummy and Daddy

A Guide to the Holidays: Staying Emotionally Healthy

The holidays can be a difficult time for many people. Many deal with stress and/or depression, grief, or other issues like toxic family members. Some even go through the holidays alone. This can be especially hard. It’s important to know how to stay emotionally healthy during this time so that you can enjoy the holidays and possibly be able to help someone you know.

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If You Are Alone

This situation is caused by different factors- distance, family issues, financial issues, and so on. There are ways that you can make this a positive time of the year:

  • Reach out. Many people will offer to extend an invitation to someone they know may be alone for the holidays. Let them know if you are available, offer to bring something. If you have friends who wouldn’t mind an extra person, ask if you can join them for a celebration.
  • Create alternative traditions. “Friendsgiving” potlucks have become popular in the last few years among those who aren’t able to see their families. I’ve gone to a couple, and it’s a lot of fun. Everyone brings a dish, decide on a fun activity, and let the fun begin.
  • Pamper yourself. Do something you enjoy- a day at the spa, nails, a new book, shirt, etc.
  • Help others. This can take many different directions- volunteering at a homeless shelter, animal shelter, etc. This can help remind you of how fortunate you are and it’s a good experience.
  • Travel. If you can afford it, go out of town for a couple of days. If you can’t, try a “staycation” and go places in your city that you haven’t been to.
  • Self- care. Check in with yourself daily- feelings, hygiene, etc. You don’t have to be cheerful 24/7 during this season, alone or not. If you realize you are having a hard time, reach out. Please see my Resources page for more information.

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For Those That Are Grieving

Grief is a hard process any day of the year. The holidays can be harder on someone that is grieving than most people realize. If you are grieving or will be celebrating the holidays with someone that is, these tips may be helpful.

  • Take care of yourself. Grief can affect people differently. Depression can cause a person to not care for themselves as they did before the loss. Self-care is important, even the tiniest steps like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, etc.
  • Don’t rush the process. It may take years for a family to feel like holiday gatherings are “normal” again after a loss. Do not rush through your grieving process for others. Everyone grieves differently and this should be respected.
  • Plan ahead. Do you really want to host Thanksgiving this year? Can someone else do it? Think about where you are in the grieving process and how comfortable you feel hosting holiday events. It might not be for you this year, but in a year or so, it might be okay again.
  • Share stories. This might be hard, depending on the situation, but it can also be helpful. Sharing stories can be good, however, when they focus on the good times with the person, acknowledging that they are missed.

If you are going to a gathering with a family who has had a recent loss:

  • Offer help. Maybe the family needs help with shopping, cleaning, decorating, etc. This can be a huge relief to them. It’s one less worry in an already tough time.
  • Ask how everyone is doing before attending the gathering. It may be a somber or joyous gathering, but you will not know unless you ask beforehand.
  • Respect the right for everyone to grieve. This is very important.

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Holiday Cheer or Holiday Stress?

There’s a lot of pressure to spend lots of money on presents, spend time with family that we may or may not get along with, get our kids everything they want and so on. How do we remain, or even get, cheerful about the holidays? How do we deal with the stress?

  • Tune out the noise. The holiday specials, songs, and movies can be a bit too much. If it becomes too much, turn it off. I can’t stand the radio stations that play nothing but Christmas music- starting before Thanksgiving.

Can we get through Thanksgiving first? It’s a bit much for me to hear this music for over a month, so I don’t even turn it on. I am stuck with it when Matthew and I are in the car together because he loves it- there’s a thing called compromise.

  • Set limits for presents. This can be a number of presents, price, or even both. We have four birthdays within 2 weeks after Christmas, so we really try to watch how much we spend. (Those birthdays are mine, Matthew, my father in law, and Cameron.) Plus, there’s the battle of making sure each kid has the same number of presents. Kids need to know that money doesn’t come easily and that they may not be able to always get what they want.
  • Toxic people need to be shown the door. Not everyone in your life is meant to be there, and that includes family. Your time is valuable- why spend it with people who don’t value you? Be realistic about what you can handle.
  • Be grateful. The main message behind the holidays is counting our blessings and being grateful for what we have. It may be a good idea to make a list of the things you are grateful for, no matter how small they are. This can be a bit of a lift, especially on the harder days.
  • Have fun in moderation. You will feel a lot better if you don’t overeat, drink too much or overdo other activities. Everyone has their limits- don’t go past them or you may disappoint yourself.
  • Take care of yourself. This can be a very hectic time of the year, and self- care can slide to the bottom of your to-do list.

Example: If you’re a perfectionist, it’s okay to let things go a bit. You can find the perfect gift for everyone, but if you’re so stressed out finding it, you’ve lost the fun part. It becomes a drag. Try loosening up a bit- don’t spend hours online looking. If you need to, take a break after an hour and come back to it the next day. Start shopping earlier to relieve some of the stress.

  • Say no. This is okay. It’s possible to become overburdened with parties, work, and other activities. Saying no lessens that burden. It’s important to remember your needs.
  • Nourish yourself- physically and emotionally. Don’t entirely skip the good foods, because there are plenty out there. Try a smaller portion. Treat yourself. Try taking a bit of “quiet time” each day to read, write, draw, anything that helps you rest your mind a bit. You will feel much less smothered by the demands of the season.

Do you have any tips for a stress-free holiday season?

All pics are from Unsplash

Information from Psychology Today

What Meditation Can do for Your Mental Health

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Meditation is an interesting concept.

Reaching a calm spot in your mind can be hard, especially if life is busy. Your mind is racing with thoughts and slowing down can seem almost impossible.

There are meditation apps on both Apple and Android platforms, even on YouTube. It’s up to you. I prefer an app, Insight Timer. I like the selections- some are led by a person, some use music. I prefer the person.

I started meditating as part of running a group at a former job. I got really into the quiet time to gather my thoughts and just relax. Everyone knew that was my group. The patients also loved it- the group was usually packed.

I’ve gotten out of the habit and need to restart.

Less than five minutes can change your whole day.

Feeling Good All Over

Meditation can help your mind get into a better place, which can help the rest of your body.

How can you get to that place?

  • Find a comfortable space. I prefer sitting on my bed or couch, but this is entirely up to you. Some like sitting on a yoga mat on the floor as part of a yoga practice. It’s all about what makes you comfortable.
  • Quiet is a must. It is hard to meditate if there is a lot of noise in the room you are in, so try to find a good time/place to try this. It can be an almost impossibility with children, pets and/or other people, events, etc, but it’s possible.
  • Do you need a timer? Some do, some don’t. I’ve tried untimed and timed, and I prefer timed. Otherwise, my mind tends to wander off and it defeats the purpose.
  • It’s okay if your mind wanders. If you’ve never tried meditating before or you are coming back to it, your mind will tend to wander. It’s natural. It’s hard at first to let your mind just be. If you’re listening to meditation with words, it can be hard to listen to and connect to the meditation. This is why I suggest short ones at first. As you get deeper into practice, you can work up to longer ones, if you decide it is for you. Everyone has different needs and preferences.
  • Don’t force it. Meditation isn’t for everyone. If it isn’t for you, you will realize it.

Calm sky

Meditation can help you in the following ways:

  • concentration
  • relaxation- as you meditate, your breathing slows and deepens, helping you relax. Also, your mind clears. This is helpful in many situations.
  • pain management- keeping your mind off severe pain, even if for a short while
  • anger management- thinking through things before adverse actions, using relaxing breaths
  • stressful situations/anxiety
  • can help children and adults
  • sleep

Self-care is vitally important. I’ve covered this topic many times on this blog. It’s not just a passing fad or something to do when we’re bored or just when we have time, but something we should find time to do every day, even if it’s just five minutes. I entirely need to get better on the meditation- I love it. It helps me center my thoughts for the day. Restarting an old habit can be a pain sometimes. How do you do it?

For further reading:

Self-Care Isn’t Just Bubble Baths

Alone Time Is A Wonderful Thing

Is It Time for A (Mental Health) Break?

Looking Back at Older Topics

I’m surprised at the number of topics I have covered on this blog- I still have so much left to discuss.

Here are five interesting posts to ponder:

The Dangers of Ignoring Mental Illness

Suicide and The Media

Should You Emphasize Grades or Mental Health?

Moving Forward: The Last Fifty Years of Psychiatry

Drinking, Drugs and Your Teen

Getting Out of A Bad Day Slump

Bad days happen to all of us. They can creep up on us or hit us like BAM! A bad day ahead. I don’t like having bad days, but they happen more than I like to admit sometimes. I deal with chronic pain from RA and migraines, which can be a bit depressing.

I also have anxiety and depression, both managed without medication. Like many others, I do have insecurities and other not-so-great thoughts that come into my mind and cause my days to not be so positive.

I was once told by someone that she didn’t want to be around me because she “didn’t want to be around my negativity for five minutes”… wait, what? I understand that I was in a deep state of grief at that point (late December 2015) but things weren’t that horrible.

This was a shocker to Matthew and my friends because for the most part, I try to stay positive, even when it’s hard. As Matthew said, “you light up the room when you walk in.” I had to sit and think that one out- it really upset me.

I realized that she was going through her own grief and anger towards me and the rest of the world. I eventually let that one go, and it’s on the list of reasons we aren’t friends anymore. I don’t think we have spoken since that conversation.

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Tap Into What You Love and Need

I have some tips for getting out of the slump of a bad day or even a series of bad days.

  • Create something. This can be food, playing an instrument or something artistic. Keeping your hands busy can take your mind off what is bothering you, even for a while. It can also lift the sadness by reminding you what you are capable of.
  • Try learning something new, even if it is something small. Want to learn how to sew a new pattern? This could be a good time.
  • Take a walk. Getting outside can clear your mind, fresh air also helps. If the weather isn’t cooperating, then try walking inside a mall or other indoor track. Other kinds of exercise, like yoga, pilates or cardio can help with releasing endorphins- these help you feel good.
  • Play with your hair, makeup or clothes- trying a new hairstyle, look or outfit can help boost your confidence a bit.
  • Call a family member and/or friend. Even if you talk for just a few minutes, human contact can be good. If you haven’t talked to anyone in a day or two, it can be nicer than you think it may be to hear another person’s voice.
  • Cuddle up with a pet or borrow someone else’s pet. Pets are great with helping with hard feelings. We got Tails intending to help Julian bond with something because he was having problems bonding with us. They are best friends, and Miss Purr joined us in 2016. If I’m having a rough day, I like cuddling with her. Our pets are soft and comforting. Most of the time, they like helping us feel better.
  • Do simple self-care. I’m not talking bubble baths and face masks- I mean simply taking a shower, brushing your teeth and putting on clothes. This can be difficult if you have been depressed and in bed for multiple days, so take the time to get this one task done, even if it takes all day to do so.
  • Read quotes, affirmations and/or books to bring yourself a bit of positivity. This can help your mind frame a bit.

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If you want to read more about bad days, being kind to yourself and other similar topics, please go to these posts:

5 Ways to Conquer Self-Kindness

5 Rules for Mental Strength

The Not-So-Good Days