Your Family’s Mental Health Over the Holiday Season

on December 16, 2011

by Kaleigh

The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, so I’ve found a couple tips I want to share with you. Hopefully these will help ease the holiday stress so everyone can enjoy spending time with family and friends.

Tips for your children

  1. Try to keep your children as close to their regular schedule as possible.  Try not to let them stay up too late, that way they will wake up close to their regular wake up time.  This will make going back to school easier.

  2. They will want to run around and play with their toys, especially after they have received new presents.  Remember that once the break is over, they are back to school and doing homework too, so let them enjoy this time and join them when you can.

(Click here to check out the PsychCentral site for more tips!)

Tips for your parents

The holiday season can be a confusing and anxiety provoking time for individuals suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. 

  1. Try to keep routines as close to normal as possible.  Call the individual before you visit or pick them up.

  2. Try not to overwhelm the individual with family and friends.  Keep the visits small and quiet.  If a big gathering is planned, have a quiet room where the individual can go to relax.

  3. Try to limit overindulgence in rich and sugary foods.  This may make the individual hyperactive and/or confused.

  4. Limit alcohol.  Ask the doctor or nurse beforehand –  alcohol interacts with many medications and it may be better to stay away from alcohol altogether.

  5. Avoid decorating with flashing lights, edible foods, or artificial foods as these may confuse the individual.

Tips for you

Remember what I said at the beginning? The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, and that includes you!  Here are some ways to help you stay relaxed over the holiday period:

  1. Although it may be too late for this season, next year try to not leave the shopping until the last minute.  Try to buy things throughout the year.  Doing this means you will deal with smaller crowds and it won’t be as big a hit on your wallet.

  2. Don’t overspend.  While your family may want everything, remember what your budget is.  It helps your children learn the value in things and creates less stress for you in the New Year.

  3. Get everyone involved.  Have your kids help you wrap some of the presents.  Make dinner as a family and clean up as a family.

  4. Remember to exercise.  Exercise will help you alleviate some stress and rejuvenate you. And no, running through the mall buying presents at the last minute doesn’t count as exercise!

  5. Spend some quality time with your spouse.  It’s easy to forget about your spouse while shopping, wrapping presents, cooking meals and cleaning up the holiday mess.  Try to schedule some quality time whether it is dinner out or a movie night at home.

  6. Get enough sleep and drink alcohol in moderation.  It’s easy to get tied up in holiday festivities but if you don’t get enough sleep or you drink too much alcohol you may be more irritable.

(Visit the Canadian Mental Health Association website for more information and tips!)

Remember to relax and have fun.  This is a time to be with your family, friends and anyone you care about! Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season! 


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BC Children's Hospital

This is an agency of Provincial Health Services Authority, providing provincial tertiary mental health services to the citizens of British Columbia. Programs include: Adult Tertiary Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatric Services, Child & Adolescent Mental Health, Women’s Reproductive Mental Health, as well as the Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program for children and youth located at the BC Children’s Hospital.

Provincial Health Services Authority

Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) is one of six health authorities – the other five health authorities serve geographic regions of BC.

Ministry of Health

British Columbia Ministry of Health

RBC Children's Mental Health Project

RBC Children’s Mental Health Project is RBC's cornerstone “health and wellness” pillar; RBC Children’s Mental Heath Project is a multi-year philanthropic commitment to support community-based and hospital programs that reduce stigma, provide early intervention and increase public awareness about children’s mental health issues.

BC Children's Hospital Foundation

Through a wide range of fundraising events and opportunities, The BC Children's Hospital Foundation is united with its donors by a single, simple passion - to improve the health and the lives of the young people who enter BC Children's Hospital every day.