​The holiday season is usually is a joyful time. Many families look forward to gathering with relatives and friends, exchanging gifts, and celebrating traditions. But COVID-19 and physical distancing have brought a new kind of stress this holiday season.

There are ways families can cut down their stress during the holidays. Sticking to routines as much as possible, exercising, eating healthy food, and getting plenty of sleep can help. Pay attention to how much time your children—​and you—spend on screens. And avoid the pressure to spend a lot of money on gifts. Instead, focus on the simple joy of spending time, and sharing a meal together.

COVID-19 is harder for some families

Your child’s stress this holiday season may depend on your family’s hardships. Think about getting extra support this year if your family is affected by the stress of:

  • Job loss, homelessness, not enough food, problems with remote work, and learning.
  • A parent or caregiver with mental health, substance abuse, or physical health issues.
  • Frontline workers (such as police officers, firefighters, doctors, nurses, or restaurant workers).
  • Children with special health care needs or a mental health condition.
  • Grieving the loss of a loved one.

Finding the joy during the holiday season

Spend a few moments each day enjoying the company of your children this holiday season. It can bring your family closer and boost your mood. Try using extra downtime to do these things together as a family:

  • Use your talents to help others, volunteer, and give back to the community.
  • Talk about your family’s culture, heritage, values, and spiritual beliefs. Cook together​, for example, making favorite family recipes.
  • Aim to be present at the moment. Teach kids to use mindfulness and relaxation to cut down on stress.
  • Practice gratitude as a family.


We are all going through unprecedented times, and the holiday season will not take away how difficult that feels for a child. Instead, families can try to focus on ways to give to others. When they learn to share their time or talent with those who have less, children build resilience that will last long after the pandemic is over.