How to Build Resilience During the Holidays

The holidays are filled with excitement, but they can also prove to be a hectic time for families – juggling the demands of work and holiday preparation.

Nefertiti Bruce, early childhood specialist and national trainer at the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, offers tips for building resilience during the holiday season. She emphasizes looking beyond the craze of the holidays to build personal resilience by rediscovering the season's original values: thankfulness, family and togetherness.


Tip #1: Grow in gratitude. The holidays are the perfect time to take inventory of all the things we are thankful for. Rather than wishing for a new golf club or handbag, the purest gratitude we can develop is when we learn to appreciate the small things: hugging a significant other, eating a wholesome meal, watching our children smile. Learning to cherish what we already have helps us derive strength and happiness from our everyday surroundings.

Exercise: Write down all the things you’re thankful for and place it by your bedside.


Tip #2: Ask for help. Asking for help shows strength – that we are not afraid of taking risks and experiencing failure. When we ask someone for something out of our power – be it an opinion from a friend, clarification from a colleague or assistance from a neighbor – we open ourselves to new experiences.

Exercise: Focus on things that cause particular stress around the holidays and assign one task to a friend or family member. Ask them directly and explain why their help is valuable.


Tip #3: Laugh out loud. Laughter helps alleviate stress and elevate our sense of well-being – giving us more peace of mind. And when we are in good spirits, we are more willing to tackle the obstacles in our way.

Exercise: Watch a holiday comedy with a loved one, or gather friends for a night of seasonal fun.


Tip #4: Listen deeply. With all the distractions awaiting families this holiday season, it can be easy to become isolated from one another. That’s why it’s more important than ever to ensure families stay connected through open and balanced dialogue. When we listen deeply, it increases our chances of forming meaningful, long-lasting relationships. In turn, these relationships are likely to give us new resources and sources of strength.

Exercise: Collect all electronics in your household and put them away for two or three hours. Share the past week’s stories over hot chocolate or a home-cooked meal.


Tip #5: Make time for a hobby. During the holidays, it can be difficult to meet the demands of your family and your supervisor. When we invest time and energy into something we love, we feel a sense of pride and confidence in our self-worth. Making time for a hobby reinforces our individualism and helps us distinguish ourselves from being just another face in the workforce crowd.

Exercise: Dedicate a day to learning a new skill or honing an existing one.


Tip #6: Practice self-calming techniques. In the midst of all the holiday scrambling, remember to find time to decompress. People often overlook the importance of mental health and its countless effects on relationships, attitude and productivity. When we are relaxed and emotionally centered, we gain control of our circumstances.

Exercise: Listen to soothing music, read a book or practice deep-breathing techniques.


Tip #7: Rest: Research shows that getting plenty of rest helps us mentally and physically. The more rest we get, the more energized we are – and a fresh take on things can be paramount in day-to-day resilience.

Exercise: Make sure you get eight hours of rest every night. Bundle up in a blanket on your couch or drink warm tea to calm your mind and body before going to bed.


As you get ready for the holiday season, make building resilience a part of your preparation. Improving your resilience will ensure that you’re able to manage stress and experience joy for the holiday season and beyond!


Nefertiti Bruce is an early childhood specialist and national trainer at the Devereux Center for Resilient Children.

Categories: MK Memo