Greetings!  We made it through the worst of the pandemic to the resumption of more normal activities with precautions.  Masks in public places.  Boosters for further protection.  And best of all, celebrating life events with family and friends.

The holidays are often a stressful time when families are impacted by loved ones with brain disorders/mental illnesses.  The formulae for wellness include routines, structure, and consistency.  This is not what happens when the season changes and the holidays are upon us.  So, how to manage the holidays with minimal fuss, if such a thing can be achieved!

It is a balancing act between your needs and those of your loved ones.  This is true anyway.  However, the following tips can ease the path so win-win solutions are implemented.

  1. Stick to your “normal” routines as much as you can
  2. Eat and drink in moderation
  3. Plan on exercise; build in “nature” time.
  4. Make sure you have a Plan B and a Plan C in place for the unexpected
  5. Keep music that you love on hand and listen to it when needing to
  6. Prioritize your time, activities, and commitments (do what you want to and can).
  7. Consider creating new rituals.
  8. What do you want to celebrate? How?
  9. Plan ahead.
  10. Share your decision with interested others.
  11. How do you develop holiday traditions that are as inclusive as possible?
  12. Invite others when appropriate.
  13. Take pictures.
  14. Create memories to strengthen family cohesion.
  15. Setting specific times for family traditions like baking special food, decorating the house, wrapping gifts or attending community celebrations, gives everyone something to look forward to and offers choices about level of participation if any.
  16. Offer opportunities to minimal gift giving by suggesting service, crafts, notes, cards. Make the theme simplicity. This eases the stress for everyone and returns the theme of connection to everyone’s ability and desire.
  17. Embrace “imperfect”
  18. For more ideas and information, click here: https://growastrongfamily.org/how-to-manage-holidays-celebrations/

As the holidays approach, consider giving a gift certificate for coaching sessions!  For a short time only, we are offering “BOGO Free” options for gift certificates!  Coaching is a great way to guide yourself, family, friends, colleagues, and others to the benefits of individualized, customized family life education services to improve family situations.  For more information and to purchase gift certificates: https://growastrongfamily.org/gift-certificates/

Other gift ideas include theme gift baskets, anxiety reduction, music, scented candles, coupon books where you create the coupons of things you may do for someone, a jar of appreciation (where you put the things you appreciate about someone in a jar), special pictures organized in a collage or a book.  There are so many ways to make the holidays meaningful and manageable, especially when you keep it simple.

Join our closed group for parents who have experienced the loss of a child by suicide or brain disorder.  We meet every week on Wednesdays at noon via zoom.  The holidays tend to be very difficult when grieving.  Consider visiting our group and see if you can benefit from the hope, strength, and experience of other parents who have had to endure this loss.  For more information and to join, https://growastrongfamily.org/live-parents-support-program/

Please continue to take good, loving care of yourselves.  And when you need information, consider visiting our website!  It is chock full of great content.  https://growastrongfamily.org/

Additional resources for support and gift ideas include: The Stable Table by Julie A. Fast on Facebook; Sheri McGregor’s website and materials on parents of estranged adult children: https://www.rejectedparents.net/ ; Books by Nancy Pizzo Boucher all available on amazon.com, and of course, GASF resource menu and shop: https://growastrongfamily.org/front-page/resources/

As ever, thank you for supporting us in supporting caregivers impacted by someone’s mental illness/brain disorder.  If you can, feel free to donate! https://growastrongfamily.org/donate/

Be well!  DON’T GO IT ALONE!  We are here for you!