Stressed teen with Christmas decorations in the background

Help Your Teen Cope with Holiday Stress

The holidays can be hectic — and tense. Between buying presents, holiday events, traveling and family gatherings, what should theoretically be fun has a way of becoming stressful. It can be stressful for youth, too. Changes in routine, reduced socialization and increased social media use during the break from school can cause feelings of sadness or anxiousness.

While feeling stressed during the holidays is normal, there are some simple ways to combat or ease those feelings to help your teen enjoy the season:

Manage your own stress. It is difficult to prevent your children from sensing your stress and being affected by it. A recent study found that one in six parents rate their stress level as high during the holiday season, with nearly twice as many mothers experiencing high stress than fathers.

Endeavor to be self-aware. Set aside time for yourself. Be sure to practice self-care and get enough sleep.

Maintain routines. Kids do best when routines are predictable and healthy. This is particularly true when it comes to sleep. As tempting as it may be to let kids stay up and sleep late during their holiday break, try to stick within an hour of usual times. The same goes for mealtimes: be sure your teen eats nutritious meals three times a day.

Avoid overscheduling. As tempting as it might be to accept every holiday invitation from friends and family, be selective to ensure you and your teen are not overwhelmed. A few events a week might be fine, but having an obligation every day can lead to holiday stress or anxiety.

Let your teen know what to expect. No one likes surprises, especially teenagers. Whether it’s family coming to visit or a change in your holiday plans, make sure everyone is in the loop about what’s happening and when, including your teenager.

Keep active. Too much screen time has been shown to have damaging effects. Encourage your kids to go outside, exercise, bike or walk.

Listen. It’s often tempting as a parent to assume that you know what’s going on in your teen’s life — and sometimes we assume that the stresses they’re dealing with are minimal compared to the ones we face every day. Instead of assuming, take the time to listen to your teen. In many schools, projects, essays, and tests stack up just before a holiday break, which can be overwhelming. Some teens may feel anxious about a specific upcoming event. It is possible that your teen is nervous about interacting with relatives. Take the time to talk with your teen and listen to what they have to say, then work out strategies together for dealing with potentially stressful events.

Not all stress is bad, as it can motivate us to work harder and be more efficient.  However, prolonged stress can have a negative impact on our physical and emotional well-being. If you notice your teen feeling overwhelmed with stress, sadness or anxiety beyond the holiday season, it is important to seek the help of a professional.

American Psychological Association:
Tips for parents on managing holiday stress (

Harvard Health:
7 ways to prevent holiday stress — for your children – Harvard Health

Kaiser Permanente:
How To Manage Holiday Stress | Kaiser Permanente


About Camino a Casa

Casa Pacifica is the largest non-profit provider of children’s and adolescent mental health services in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. The agency’s Camino a Casa program, available to clients with private insurance, provides behavioral health care to youth ages 12-17 who struggle with emotional dysregulation and high-risk behaviors that jeopardize their safety at home, school and/or community.  

Intensive short-term residential treatment, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient and in-home behavioral health services comprise Camino a Casa’s full continuum of adolescent mental health care. 

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