What are some things we can do to manage our stress during the holidays?
- Be Aware & Be prepared – George Washington said, "to be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace." Assuming that family problems are going to go away for the holidays is not realistic. Everybody's family has challenges & issues. It is important to be aware of challenging situations that might come up. The Action Step to do this is to write a list of things, people & situations that might trigger you. Address these issues before hand if possible – but not on the holiday. We can't control the behavior of those around us. Turn your focus to things you can control - like your reactions.
- Make it a Win Win – A lot of times family comes a long way to visit – so make sure that you structure the time that is spent with them a head of time. This can help in avoiding conflict. People know what to expect when they are structured and it leaves less opportunity for conflict. The Action Step to make it a win win for everybody is to have choices & options – crafts, activities, and places to go.
- Don't be a Drama Mama – Give yourself a gift over the holidays of patience & understanding. Realize that the holiday is just one day with that family member that gives you anxiety. The Action Step for you is to make a decision to not overreact, get upset and to keep yourself calm. If you let go and accept that its just one day – you will be able to get through it.
- Avoid the Too Much's – Drunken tidings are never a good idea. Over the holidays we have too much alcohol, too much food, and too much togetherness. Be aware of the pressures, demands, depression, increased alcohol intake, and fatigue that come with holidays. The Action Step is: Don't escape your sorrows in the too much's.
- Have A Plan B – If you are starting to feel uncomfortable, your blood is about to boil, or that a conversation could go in a not so good direction – change locations. The Action Step is to take a step outside, go to another room, play with the kids, walk the dog. When you exit for a minute, you might end up being the person who calms things down.
- Be Nice Not Naughty - Everyone needs to feel special and important. Do your best to help other family members feel that way. When dealing with a challenging family member, include them in the activities and invite them in. They already know that they are the black sheep. Sometimes, compliments and noticing others diffuses stress and conflict. The Action Step is to include and compliment others. Notice your mother-in-law's new haircut, your brother’s new shirt, or your cousin's new girlfriend.
Get more relationship advice from Dr. Eris Heumer at doctoreris.com and on @doctoreris.