Let’s face it. Family gatherings are not always roses and cotton candy. For some families, they’re masked balls, with everyone straining to maintain a façade of harmony. For others, they’re Wild West shootouts. Try some of these tips.
- Make a pro-and-con list. Clear your head, find a calm moment and decide whether it is best for you to go.
- Consider smaller portions. Plan to visit only for appetizers or dessert.
- Educate yourself. Seek information on the issues or dynamics that tend to come up in your family.
- Dig deeper. How do you contribute to the tension? Can you adjust your understanding of other points of view?
- Seek to understand. Get to the heart of things by asking questions in a relaxed, open, non-defensive way. Read Sharon Ellison’s Taking the War Out of Our Words or Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg.
- Be prepared. Holiday-related emotions may arrive early. Recognizing the source can help you deal with them more effectively.
- Take care of yourself. If the atmosphere isn’t safe, leave. Gather with friends, do volunteer work or pamper yourself.
- Call a friend. Debrief after the visit with someone you trust.
- Be patient. Real change — in you and in your family — takes time.
- Be gracious. Aim for maturity and compassion in dealing with family situations.
Also helpful for managing holiday stress are these “Mindful Meditations.“. If you can, spend a few minutes each day taking the time to practice one of these.