“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Most of us are familiar with this quote from Charles Dickens and I dare say that each of us has felt this way about the holidays at some point in our lives. Excitement and expectations run high, yet this season may also be experienced as stressful. Time off from work and school are seen as a positive aspect of the holidays – but even this positive aspect represents a change in routine. Change abounds this time of year- there are often more people or new people, different environments, unfamiliar foods, and increased social demands. These can be experienced as "the worst of times."  

As we enter into the holiday season, it is important to recognize that there are differing responses to the excitement and increased activity during this time of year. This recognition is the first step in taking care of ourselves and supporting others in ways that increase the likelihood that we can all enjoy the holidays. Here’s some more tips to help to maintain the merriment:

  • Pre-plan and create as much predictability as possible
  • Provide alternatives or a ‘plan B’ for potentially stressful activities
  • Offer choices regarding level of engagement with people and activities
  • Respect that people have differing needs for social interaction
  • Honor ‘no thanks’ when someone does not want to join in a group game or activity
  • Create quiet, low sensory spaces 
  • Bring along favorite sensory toys, soothing activities, familiar food/snacks

If we all practice patience and grace, we can support each other to experience a sense of well-being, belonging, and joy—ensuring that this holiday season can be remembered as "the best of times." 

A group of lit candles to represent the holiday season