“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called. ~A.A. Milne
Anticipating and experiencing the holidays are not always as joyful as the season’s promise of good will and cheer. Stress from time crunches, anxiety from expectations, and pressure from commitments could even turn over Winnie-the-Pooh’s honied holiday table if he was a parent.
The ideal gathering of food, fun, family and friends is the goal but the reality of obligations, conflicting personalities and extra baggage make it hard to achieve. For example, is one of these children sitting at your holiday table:
- A college-bound student with a full schedule of school work and extracurriculars is overwhelmed with the addition of college preparation activities.
- A high school senior hoping for college acceptance but fearing rejection is nonstop irritable.
- A returning college student enjoying her independence is unhappily reminded of her dependence at home.
If so, you are a POCS, a Parent Of a College or College-bound Student, and have vicarious college choice worries including location, cost and proper fit.
It is possible for all family members to hold back the negative, reinforce the positive, enjoy the holidays and welcome the New Year with these seven holiday stress-busters that can be used anytime:
1. Manage time Organize and prioritize to stay healthy and achieve step-by-step goals. Procrastination is the enemy so create a time management plan filled with breaks to bust the stress like this 3 easy step college-bound time management plan. Also include proper meals, hydration, exercise, and sleep which are often stress victims.
2. Form a team Form a parent-student team to tackle issues and chores. Family means no need to go it alone. Lower anxiety with teamwork for common goals, mutual support, appreciation, inspiration and respect.
3. Open communication Holding it in can lead to an explosion. Texting and emailing are fast ways to communicate but a good old-fashioned heart-to-heart talk goes deeper to relieve pressures. The goal is to calmly verbalize (choose person or people, time and place wisely) stress-causing thoughts and emotions for better understanding. If stress can’t be eliminated, focus on altering reactions to it.
4. Ask for help If it seems your to-do list is overwhelming, it’s time for all family members to step up and pitch in to help. Tap into the collective family smarts to divvy up tasks, brainstorm issues and find solutions. (See #2).
5. Re-imagine Count to ten, take some deep breaths, and mentally go to your “happy place” when stress is high. Then plan something fabulous to look forward to and trade anxiety for happy thoughts.
6. Be a model Make a decision to set a great example with a positive attitude. Life is full of challenges and joys. Tackle the former with good humor and remember the latter to put stress into perspective because time has a habit of flying by whether we are stressed or not.
7. Have fun Make lemonade from lemons. Fun and laughter are great stress relievers so find it in every activity. Think like Mary Poppins and incorporate a bit of fun and funny. Enjoy being together, listen to music, watch a comedy, laugh, sing it out, take a walk, have a great conversation, and complete a task. Then celebrate your accomplishments…even the small ones!
Wishing you a very happy, healthy and stress-free holiday and New Year!
Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!
Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from www.pocsmom.com to http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/ and vice versa.