12/17/2013 12:52 pm ET Updated Feb 16, 2014

12th Graders and Parents: Enjoy the Holidays and Chill!

As graduation nears, pressure builds. College acceptance apprehension can be overwhelming. Around now it would be very surprising if you are not tense and on edge.

The college application process doesn't need to be this way... life doesn't need to be this way!

As students and parents you have the ability and the power to determine how the next three or four months will shake out.

Can you remove all stress? Of course not. Finding the best schools, finalizing your essay, getting accepted by your first choice, securing loans or preparing to leave home for the first time are off the chart in producing stress and anxiety.

For parents adjusting to having your child abandon the nest and ensuring they are meeting all their academic commitments and financial burdens are just a few of the factors that may be constant sources of agita. They often play out as tension and bickering between you and your child.

Unfortunately the above scenarios are more the norm than the exception. What a shame. This is absolutely, positively unnecessary. Working together and communicating authentically you can transform this period into an energizing and enjoyable family experience.

The purpose of this article is to begin the process of bringing a bit of perspective to the upcoming months.

Let's start with what's most important. Family. As a High School student, it may not seem this way right now, but take it on faith. Friends may be your primary focus, but your family is made up of those that will always care about you no matter what.

Parents, you need to realize that to most seniors, spending time with their friends and decompressing seems far more important than spending time with you. Your kids know you will always be there for them... but they don't necessarily want to hang. Don't take it personally.

As the school holidays approach both students and parents should keep in mind that this may be the last time you will be living under the same roof full time. Make the most of it. Don't let college application concerns become your raison d'etre. Realize there is far more to life than college. Yes, schooling is important, but it's not the end all. There's a whole world to experience and enjoy!

Parents and students give yourselves a college application moratorium. Decide neither of you will discuss college plans the last week of this year.

Make a conscious effort to celebrate the holiday season. Be mindful of ways to wring the most enjoyment and satisfaction out of life.

Parents, don't expect your child will want to spend all their time with you. It's not going to happen. Be thankful for texts. And don't actively discourage them by constant harangues about responsibility and meeting deadlines. Tensions will run high, and nobody will enjoy themselves.

Students consider sharing some in-person moments with your parents. Facebook messages, texts, Instagram postings... they're all great, but they don't replace special time together. Agree on a mix! Why not give your parents, those nice people that raised you, at least 5 percent of your time?

You can make this happen. All of us have the power of choice to determine how we will respond and react to any given situation. You'll find you'll enjoy the holidays so much more and will begin the new year with renewed vigor.

Now the most important point! After the holiday, work together to communicate and establish an emotionally healthy approach to finalizing all aspects of the college application.

Students and parents you have the ability to analyze, and determine responses and reactions to all the challenges life sends your way. It's never too early to begin the process. You'll reap great rewards in the future. Use the college application process as a jumping off point for adopting a mindful approach to how you handle all situations.

The purpose of this article was to spread some peace and harmony into a time that is often fraught with tension. Life doesn't have to be this way; it can be filled with joy, laughter and humor even under the most trying situations.

I promise if you allow yourself to become aware of your responses and interactions and then work on strategies that promote introspection, open communication and harmony, you'll find you will be living less stress filled, more relaxed and just plain happier lives.

Life presents all sorts of challenges. Meeting them head on and conquering them is a great adventure.

In my next article, we'll talk about strategies you can employ to begin to make this happen. Join the journey. Become an adventurer. It will be informative, fun and life transforming.

Have a healthy & happy New Year and make plans to enjoy yourself.