Holiday Blues Affect Young People Too
Holiday blues can affect anyone. Festivities and family gatherings can be an added source of stress. So, it’s important to practice good self-care. And just as important to help young people cope with holiday blues too.
Many different factors can contribute to the feeling of holiday blues. Holiday times can be hectic. Expectations to gather and celebrate are sometimes difficult to navigate, especially if you’re not quite feeling the holiday spirit. Adults may have a choice of how to spend their holiday time. Young people often don’t. And that can cause a sense of frustration, helplessness, or social anxiety.
Winter holidays mean shorter days with less sunlight. If you live in a colder climate, winter weather can bring added stress and disruption.
Some people may feel sad about another year coming to a close. Others may feel stressed to make changes and resolutions for the new year ahead.
The pandemic has caused many families to lose loved ones and holiday times can be a painful reminder of that loss and grief.
Holiday blues are not an uncommon experience. Heading into the holidays, the best thing you can do for yourself and the young people around you is to have solid coping strategies and ways to lower stress.
Tips for reducing stress
Whether you are a parent, an adult relative, a caregiver, or a youth worker, the best strategy for helping young people deal with holiday blues is to always be aware of your own reactions to the stresses any holiday can bring. Young people will be listening and watching and they can easily take on any of those stresses that affect you.
So, self-care is key. What are your go-to practices to keep stress to a minimum? Invite young people to join you in those practices. Some easy steps include:
- Setting aside some special time to just unwind together.
- Doing some calming breath exercises before and after holiday gatherings.
- Modeling healthy eating to avoid the kinds of over-indulgence holidays may tempt.
- Any sort of physical exercise or activity can help bring stress down. Make time for play.
And don't forget the importance of being an askable adult. When a young person knows that you will hear them out without judgment, they will more easily share what is on their minds.
Don't shy away from asking about their feelings. And don't try to tell them how they should feel! Holidays can be full of expectations about how we should act and feel. Make space for young people to process different feelings without guilt.
Let them know you care
You can help young people manage expectations around the season. Explore what may be a trigger for them and the support they need to cope with the holiday blues. Help them pay attention to their emotions. And take notice of signs this may be more than holiday blues.
Here are a few phrases that The National Center for Youth Issues recommends young people need to hear during the holidays.
- I care about you.
- You are not alone in this.
- I am sorry you are hurting.
- I’ll help however I can.
- I see you and your grief.
- You are important to me.
What a great reminder of how important the messages we give young people are. You are a trusted grown up that can help young people cope with the holiday blues. We are grateful for youth workers like you who meet young people where they are.
YIPA has a number of great self-care trainings for adults, with tips and strategies for helping young people reduce stress too. One of our favorites is Less Stress With Move Mindfully Interventions. It’s a free training for YIPA members.
About the author
Joanne Rice is the member satisfaction specialist of the Youth Intervention Programs Association (YIPA), a non-profit association of youth-serving organizations. We're your source for exceptional, affordable, personal and professional online learning via The Professional Youth Worker. Join us!
To ask Joanne a question or share your feedback about this blog, email [email protected].