How to Deal When Your Teen is Feeling Low & Unhappy During the Holidays

It’s not always acceptable to say but the holiday season can be a pain. There’s so much extra stress and pressure with no extra time to handle it. However, for most adults, you find a way around it. You have fun despite all the disruptions. But what about your teen?

They are also asked to live up to higher expectations and this can take a major toll on their mental health. Roughly two out of three Americans experience some version of the holiday blues. Many of them are teenagers. Fortunately, there are practical ways to ease their burden — and yours!

3 Ways to Deal When Your Teen is Feeling Low & Unhappy During the Holidays

1. Communication

Do not leave things to chance. Talk about the changes and shifts built into this time of year. Avoid outbursts by filling everyone in about plans and events. Involve your teen. Give them room to celebrate with their friends or to just relax. Honor their input into the planning. Ask them to help out with certain responsibilities to keep them engaged in the goings-on. Keep the conversations going so no one gets taken by surprise.

2. Create a Plan Together

An offshoot of steady communication (see above) is the ability to work together to create a workable plan. This allows your teen to add to the calendar any events they have planned at school, work, or with friends. Eliminating the chances of overload or overlap eases everyone’s mind.

Talk seriously about downsizing expectations. You can set firm budgets for gift-giving so no one is overextended in terms of finances or shopping. Even better, set aside some family to make homemade gifts whenever possible.

Also, you don’t have to say “yes” to all invitations. Take a family as to what you will do as a unit. You also don’t have to stay at events longer than you want. Don’t force the holiday spirit. If any of you need a break, take a break. A collective rest day will do wonders when your schedule feels jam-packed. And don’t worry, people will understand and adjust.

3. Remember the Basics

Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean you lose all perspective. Stick to important routines to maintain a sense of balance and normalcy. This could mean:

  • Meals
  • Bedtimes
  • Household chores, errands, etc.
  • Schoolwork and extracurricular activities

Be extra careful with screen time. Those devices are already a source of distraction and anxiety for teens. In December, that can escalate. Your teen may feel they have to compete with the holiday posts they see on social media. Set family boundaries to enjoy some quality, screen-free time.

Use that downtime for self-care. Exercise, read, take walks — whatever lightens your mental load. When you as a parent lead by example, self-care becomes the norm. Also, when parents are stressing over the holidays it can add to the anxiety their children (of any age) already feel.

Sometimes, It’s More Than the Holidays

Something as extreme as the holiday madness can bring to light a pre-existing problem. Your teen may have been already struggling with anxiety and/or depression. The holiday season has merely exacerbated it. If you are concerned this is the case, it’s where the above-mentioned communication becomes even more important.

You’ll need to check in with your teen. Have an honest, direct conversation. Let them know it’s not unusual to feel anxious or sad. There’s nothing shameful about seeking help. Whether it’s triggered by the holidays or exposed by the holidays, help your teen get the anxiety counseling they need. If you need support, let’s connect for a safe and confidential consultation.

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