By Jessica Burrows, MA, LPC, CFLE
For many young adults and teens, the holidays can bring on more stress than joy and here at NextGen Counseling, PLLC we see a rise in the need for our services in the winter months. In fact, believe it or not, December is our busiest month of the whole year! Through my experiences as a teen counselor I have learned that there are many reasons why the holidays are so stressful:
Change in Routine– For young adults and teens who struggle with anxiety a consistent routine and control over their schedule is imperative. Teens are often involved in holiday-themed events and parties and overscheduling during this time can make it hard to have a balanced routine and schedule. To avoid increased anxiety, it is important that parents assist their teens in setting healthy boundaries, teaching them that it is okay to say no when overscheduled, and to be realistic when committing to parties and events that are beyond their normal schedule and routine.
Family Drama– Young adults and teens alike, especially in broken families are often forced to split their time between their parents. In addition, traditions may be different after divorce or family conflict occurs. As a young adult, my mother and stepfather divorced when I was in high school and I will never forget how hard it was to go through the holidays after their separation. While it is typically expected that individuals spend time with loved ones during the holiday it is essential that parents remember how hard this can be for a young adult who has experienced loss, divorce, or family conflict and be prepared for difficult conversations and advice when needed.
Shifts in Seasons– For young adults and teens, the cold weather can naturally bring on depression. When the seasons shift many young adults and teens find themselves avoiding social interaction, spending more time engaging in technology, and spending less time outdoors. The lack of sunshine and outdoor activities can wreak havoc on our wellbeing. Vitamin D deficiencies can have devastating effects on a person’s mental health. It is important that families continue to plan activities that allow for sunshine such as hiking, biking or going for a walk with some hot chocolate or a warm beverage in hand. In addition, setting goals for limiting in door activities such as watching TV, spending too much time in bed or using technology is encouraged.
In summary, the holidays can be a joyful time for most but keep in mind that there are many that find it difficult. Simple strategies can help overcome stress for young adults and teens, but when the sadness or anxiety is too much to handle, counseling can help. Here at NextGen we specialize in assisting young adults and teens struggling with depression, anxiety, self-injury, suicidal ideation, and more. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more info. Visit us on the web at www.nextgencounseling.org or contact us today to schedule a free phone consult with therapist at 940-228-2171.