Dr. Jackie Minor
Combating Holiday Stress
I love the holidays! The colors, sounds, food, time with family, and most importantly the constant reminders of God’s ultimate gift to us—Jesus. As a child, the holidays were always a happy time for me. I know now what a blessing that was. We need to remember that this time of year may not be a joyful time for many. With an overwhelming number of families facing economic hardships, it may prove challenging for many parents and children who lack emotional and financial resources to experience the joyful moments that most of us will enjoy this time of year.
We also need to understand that holiday stress isn’t just about being economically challenged. Many of us have increased anxiety as we deal with a host of challenges (e.g., too many obligations, grief from the loss of a loved one, buying gifts, traveling, overeating). In fact, a poll conducted by the American Psychological Association concluded that 8 out of 10 Americans anticipate stress and anxiousness during the holiday season!
What does that mean for us as educators? If our students’ parents are experiencing holiday anxiety and we are also stressed, it is bound to impact the children we teach. After all, wouldn’t you agree that children feed off of our emotions? They learn from what they see.
The holidays are an opportunity for us to demonstrate the true meaning of Christmas. We don’t want our students to see a frazzled, anxious teacher but one that is filled with joy and peace.
Let’s look at some ways we can enjoy the holidays with our students and decrease the levels of holiday stress.
· Begin each day with this simple prayer: “Lord, may the fruit of the Spirit be evident in my life today.” Remember, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful, and self-control. So, when one of your students is late for an important Christmas program rehearsal, take a deep breath and respond appropriately. It will be important to keep your own level of anxiety in check!
· Remember what the holidays are all about—giving. Focus classroom activities and celebrations around serving others.
And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
· Choose a community volunteer project in which students can participate. Encourage parents to participate as well.
· Be sensitive to changes in behavior that may be a result of holiday stress. You may see an increase of stomach aches, headaches, nervous behaviors, tears of frustration, and even regression to poor behavior. These students most likely are needing a calm adult to help them navigate what they are feeling. Keep in mind—most children don’t understand “why” they are stressed. They just are!
Some holiday stress is inevitable, but let’s be instrumental in combating holiday stress by remembering the true reason for the season.
And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
References and Resources
Becky L. Spivey, 2019 Super Duper Publications