We all know that things often get crazy when we’re at the relatives house. It’s noisy. Kids are running around everywhere, maybe bickering, maybe yelling, but definitely getting in the way, right! And, oh no! Aunt Sarah made that dish Michael hated last year. Or, maybe Uncle Eric brings up politics again. With all the chaos, we need ways to stay calm while we’re away from home because it’s nearly impossible to use our usual methods to relieve stress. And, our kids need ways for staying calm so we don’t have any embarrassing incidents. Here are five secret weapons to stay calm in the middle of the chaos.
5 secrets to staying calm in the holiday chaos
Wear an aromatherapy necklace
This is a really easy way to help yourself and your kids stay calm. It’s subtle, easy, beautiful, and continuous. Aromatherapy offers many options for a pleasing, calming scent that can transform you or your child’s mood. If you load up the necklace diffuser before you leave for the relatives’ house, you can head off problems before they occur. Then, the scent has plenty of time to take effect. And, if you take your bottle of relaxing essential oil with you, you can reload it while you’re there. For best effect, be sure you use authentic oils. My favorite oils for staying calm are: Calming blend, Tranquility blend, At Peace blend, Sweet Oasis blend, and Care blend. These blends are great because they combine all the best calming oils into one great formula. That way, you don’t have to buy several different oils.
Staying calm with music (use earbuds)
This one is easier for the kids than for adults. We tend to excuse children who are listening to a CD, mp3 player, or their phone. But, discretely keeping earbuds in your pocket and escaping to the bathroom for 15 minutes or so, might just do the trick! Research on the effect of music on stress levels shows that music can affect the body’s stress response. When researchers played classical music after subjects were exposed to a stressor, the music lowered heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels.
You could play relaxing music on the way to your holiday gathering. Or, you could equip your child with a “stress bag” that includes a CD or mp3 player and appropriate calming music. You could also put in some coloring books, fidget toys, or other calming sensory objects.
Stress balls and fidget toys
Another possibility for staying calm are stress balls and fidget toys. You and your children can keep one of these small items in your pocket. Then, when Uncle Eric makes one of his rude comments, you can reach in your pocket and expend your stress on the little squishy ball. Squeeze it hard and let it out instead of stuffing all your feelings down inside. It helps you release all that pent up negative energy that harms you.
In fact, using a stress ball does more for your health than give your anger somewhere to go. It can also help you focus. A study with 6th grade students who used stress balls showed that using stress balls decreased distraction and helped them stay calm. So, keeping one of these handy during stressful holiday gatherings can help you keep your cool. Bring one along for each member of your family.
Hugs feel good, right? And when a child is upset, anxious, stressed, or sad, they want a hug and usually, so do adults. That gentle pressure on the body helps the body to relax and release tension. And that’s the premise behind weighted blankets. Often, weighted blankets are used to help children calm down for sleep. But, they can also be used during the day to help an anxious, stressed out child calm down. Bring one with you and wrap your child in it when he’s feeling out of sorts from all the activity. Or, try something smaller, such as a weighted neck wrap or lap pad animal.
The relaxing effect of coloring books is not just for adults. Kids can enjoy the benefits also. Just make sure that the designs are age appropriate. Children over the age of ten will likely enjoy adult coloring books more than ones designed for kids. And, structured geometric type designs are more effective than open-ended drawing and coloring. If your child normally doesn’t like coloring (maybe because of fine motor issues), try a puzzle instead. The old-fashioned jigsaw puzzle is best and could be a way to involve the whole family in an activity that builds memories.
So, this holiday season, bring along some tools to help you and your children beat the stress of the family chaos. Don’t yell or clam up and then complain all the way home. Don’t let others steal your joy! Come prepared.