The holiday season is a time for joy and celebration, but it can also be incredibly stressful, especially for families with adult children who have special needs. The added responsibilities and changes in routine can be overwhelming for everyone, which is why having a holiday stress management plan is so important. Here are 5 tips to avoid holiday stress — at least as much as possible — and enjoy the season more.
1. Plan Ahead
One of the single best strategies for reducing holiday stress is to plan ahead. Create a detailed visual schedule for the holiday season, including special gatherings and activities. Involve your adult child in the planning process to ensure that their needs and preferences are taken into account. Maintain a regular routine outside of special events, keeping in mind that too many can be overwhelming for everyone. Revisit and discuss the calendar often. This will help your child feel included while avoiding last-minute changes that can cause stress.
2. Delegate Responsibilities
You don't have to do it all yourself. Delegate tasks like shopping, cooking, and decorating to other family members or friends where possible. This will help you focus on spending quality time with your adult child and reduce the stress associated with managing everything on your own. Allowing those close to you to assist with some holiday prep can also help them to feel more needed and empowered, making delegating a real win-win.
3. Be Mindful of Sensory Overload
The holidays are filled with bright lights, loud noises, and strong scents, which can be overwhelming for individuals with sensory sensitivities. Consider creating a "quiet space" in your home where your adult child can retreat when they need a break. Limit exposure to sensory triggers and communicate openly with family and friends about your child’s comfort levels.
4. Come Prepared
If you and your child will be guests at someone else’s gathering, bring your own meal for your child to avoid dietary or preference conflicts. Bring activity supplies (books, tablets, etc.) that they can enjoy when they aren’t interacting with others, or if they become overwhelmed and need a break. Consider creating a list of gift ideas in advance that would work well for other people to give your child, or purchase them yourself and work on a reimbursement system. This can eliminate stress for gift givers, your child, and yourself.
5. Practice Self-Care
Last but not least, don't forget to take care of yourself. The holidays can be draining, both emotionally and physically, and all the more so for families with adult children who have special needs. That’s why it’s crucial to make time for activities that help you relax and recharge. Whether it's a walk, a hot bath, a good book or movie, or a few minutes of meditation, self-care is essential for managing stress and being fully present for your family.
Stress Less This Holiday Season With Progressive Lifestyles
Progressive Lifestyles, Inc. is dedicated to providing innovative support services for people with disabilities. Our mission is to provide supportive and caring residential opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout Oakland County, Michigan.
A primary focus of our organization is to interact with the individuals we support through the “Culture of Gentleness” model. We seek to create a positive environment to help them feel safe and valued while maximizing praise, limiting demands, maintaining consistent structure, and reducing stress during transitions.