You better watch out! The winter holidays are here and whether you are celebrating with family, friends or taking a quiet vacation, a break can be beneficial for all. It’s always best to prepare for a break from routine, especially when you or a friend or family member has special needs. Integrating a sensory diet can help you benefit during the break and beyond.
Prepare. Preparation is key here. Will you be traveling? Going to a party? Inviting guests to your home? In any case, be sure you have scheduled some down time and have your sensory tools handy. A weighted or compression vest can go a long way to keeping everyone sane during the ups and downs. To alleviate anxiety, take time to explain the schedule of events and prepare your child or teen for a long visit or a busy day that has unfamiliar activities.
Moderation is Key. Space your activities and help your children learn to check in with their bodies to see how they are feeling. Too much party can be hard on everyone. Multiple activities every day can also be stressful though it may work for some of your sensory seekers. Be sure to plan out your schedule so there is plenty of down time to regroup.
Sensory Savvy Breaks. Whatever you do, don’t leave home without your Break Box, weighted pal or fidget/fine motor tool. These are just examples but having your sensory friendly toolbox handy, either at home or on the go, can be a real lifesaver. Anticipate that you will need a movement, stretch or heavy work break.
Walk and Jump It off. Be sure to burn off some of your holiday energy with a brisk walk, jump or time in a swing. These activities are sure to minimize meltdowns and sensory integration dysfunction amid all the holiday cheer. Using the great outdoors even on a cold snowy day can do wonders for everyone’s overall well being.
Be Social. This time of year can be a great learning opportunity for those with social anxiety or sensory challenges. Try to prepare ahead of time and discuss how to greet family and friends. Practice smiling in a mirror, discuss emotions and explain the expectations of social behavior and how to treat others.
Remember, breaks are great. Keep the most important thing in mind: this is a time for winding down and spending time together as a family. Being off schedule and missing a normal routine can do wonders for everyone’s mental health so be sure to stay calm and have a wonderful and safe holiday.