Coping Over the Winter Break - A Guide for Caregivers

Make Time for Rest
These years have been far from easy and have brought a great deal of exhaustion for our families. As we approach the winter break, holidays can quickly become busy and scheduled. It will be that much more important this year to intentionally build in opportunities for rest for our families.
Similarly, our children/teens have shared that they too are very tired. Some are experiencing low energy and some are struggling with sleep. Our children may need this winter break to build in a routine again, to reestablish or continue with sleep and bedtime routines. Children/teens need approximately 8-10 hours of consecutive sleep each night. To learn more about supporting your child's sleep hygiene, click here.
Get Back to the Basics
In addition to supporting rest and regulating sleep, prompt your child to continue to practice self-care, to continue to eat and move their body regularly. After these recent years of increased screen time, encourage your child to give their brain the downtime it may need. Consider reducing how much screen time your child has this winter break and instead, consider spending more time outdoors.
Time outdoors helps to increase oxygen to the brain, and this assists in the production of serotonin, which helps to shift our mood. If body movement is incorporated, this helps to release endorphins, a feel good hormone in our brains that promotes mental health and wellbeing.
It's Okay to Say No...
Recognize when your emotional bandwidth is low, and when you need to say "no". Know that it's okay to prioritize your wellbeing and the wellbeing of your family, even over the holidays. Set manageable and realistic expectations.
Regularly Check-In
Continue to check in with your child about how they are really doing. It's helpful to
know what to look out for if it starts to become overwhelming and they are having
difficulty coping:
Some signs and symptoms you might notice are:
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping a lot more than usual.
  • Change in appetite, eating less or more than usual.
  • Spending less time with family/friends.
  • Little motivation or interest in activities they once enjoyed.
  • Irritability, feeling really anxious, or sadness that seems to stick around for a while even though they're using their healthy coping strategies.
To learn more about what to look out for:
Ways to Support
This has been a hard year, be gentle with yourself. Before we are able to support others, we'll need to care for ourselves and practice self-compassion. Start by acknowledging and giving space to your feelings, including grief. start your mornings with mindfulness and prayer, practice grounding through deep breathing.
Continue to have conversations with your child and acknowledge their experience by validating their feelings. Bring focus to what is within our control, for instance the activities that can be done during this time, and how we practice our self-care and coping. Model healthy coping and focus on this together as a family.
Supports Available Over the Holidays
Here 24/7: 1 844 437 3247
Compass Counselling: 519-824-2431
LGBTQ+ Support Line: (226) 669-3760
Hope for Wellness, support line for Indigenous Peoples: 1-855-242-3310
Kid's Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 or text 686868
The Grove Youth Wellness Hubs, find a hub here