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Surviving the Holiday Hustle: Transforming Stress and Yelling into Emotional Self-Care

The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes a mix of joy and connection, but also stress and extra to do’s, especially for parents. In this blog post, we'll explore common challenges and provide practical tips to help you navigate this busy time with grace and emotional intelligence.

The Holiday Stress Spiral

“Come on, come on, we’re late again for school!” the Mom screeched for the 5th time, her energy tense as they rushed out to the car. Can you relate?

I recently worked with a Mom who has joint custody of her children. She expressed how there's never enough time for work, getting everyone food, where they need to be, cleaned up and to bed, plus time for herself. December only ratchets up the pressure with extra tasks: teacher's gifts, parties, holiday performances, and more.

She confessed that her stress level was through the roof, leading to more yelling and frustration. And she's not alone.

Understanding Emotional Self-Care

This time of year can be particularly challenging, as our already full plates overflow with holiday expectations. It's a clash between feeling overwhelmed and the societal pressure that we do everything ‘photo perfect’ well, while we exude holiday cheer.

Adding to this is the shame induced by social media, where everyone else seems to have it all together. This is where emotional self-care becomes crucial. Inspired by the work of Brené Brown and principles of Nonviolent Communication, emotional self-care involves validating and fully experiencing our emotions, while not directing them AT anyone else.

Practical Steps for Stress Management: Holiday Quick Win

  • Interrupt the Pattern: When you find yourself yelling or problem-solving, just STOP. Place a hand gently on your throat or stomach as a physical reminder to pay attention to the toxic energy flow.  This also stops you from directing your upset at them, which ends up invalidating their feelings.

  • Self-Acceptance: Place your hand on your heart and affirm, "I'm imperfect and I'm enough." Acknowledge your feelings without judgment.

  • Explore Your Emotions: Ask yourself, "What am I really feeling?" Understand that your reactions are a sign of unmet needs.

  • Take a Constructive Break: Suggest a 10-minute break for everyone. This pause helps in resetting the emotional climate of the situation.

  • Model Emotional Self-Care: Share with your kids, "It's not your fault I'm upset. I'm feeling frustrated and need a moment to understand my feelings."

By following these steps, you're not only managing your stress but also teaching your children valuable emotional skills.

Then get curious about your emotions and unmet needs/values

  • “I see I am upset. I’m feeling frustrated.” 

  • Reassure your kids, “It’s not your fault that I’m upset. Something inside me got activated.”

  • It makes sense I’m feeling this way as I haven’t had a break in a while.

  • I must have some unmet needs

  • I know I used my harsh voice and told you what to do. 

  • I wasn’t curious about what’s going on for you. 

  • I think I need to release some pent up emotions in a more constructive way.

  • How about we all take a 10 minute break, then come back and figure out what’s next together?”

This models emotional self care by normalizing, listening to and releasing intense feelings, and not AT each other. 

A Teaser for January

Interested in learning more about the "5 Steps to Connect" based on the works of Brené Brown and NVC? Stay tuned for our January series, "Gifts of Imperfect Parenting," where we dive deeper into transforming family dynamics through authenticity and vulnerability.


Remember, every moment of stress is an opportunity for growth and connection. By practicing emotional self-care, we can shift from a cycle of exhaustion and stress to one of understanding and harmony.

Engage with Us

Have you chosen one of these strategies to try? Great! Share your experience in the comments below or ask questions to keep the conversation going!

Further Reading

For more insights on parenting and emotional intelligence, check out this blog on anger or other previous posts.


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