General Wellness

Managing family stress during the holidays

Politics? Vaccines? Long-held grudges? What roadblocks does your family face when it comes to setting the stage and table for happy holidays? When you invite extended family members for a holiday event, know that they may bring a wealth of opinions along with gifts and well wishes.

If you are already dreading your next big family event, take a deep breath and strategize so that you can be present and focus on enjoying the best of the season. Here are some helpful tips for preempting family-related holiday stress:

  • Be grateful first. When you start with an attitude of gratitude, you can fill your cup and allow some of the traditional holiday stressors to roll off your shoulders. Remind yourself of what and who you are grateful for prior to any family event to ground yourself in appreciation.
  • Be open to change. If you know certain traditions or family members are extra-stressful, maybe it’s time to change things up this year—whether that’s the menu or the venue or the guest list or the duration of the event.
  • Plan ahead for stressful moments. Does your cousin-in-law always ask when you’re going to add to the family tree? Or maybe your uncle makes an underhanded annual comment about his preferred version of the Thanksgiving meal? If you know that certain individuals will trigger feelings of frustration, plan a thoughtful response in advance. This might be a nod and a 10-minute break or a simple comment to change the subject.
  • Maintain healthy habits. Prioritize a good night’s sleep, exercise and fresh air, and hydration and nutrition—all of which can be a little harder to maintain this time of year. When you feel rested and balanced, it’s easier to respond from a place of love than a moment of anger or frustration.

‘Holiday family time can be great … and it can be really difficult—no one knows how to push our buttons like family!” said Dr. Staci Biegner. “With that in mind, give yourself the time and space you need to manage holiday stressors so that you can enjoy your favorite parts of the season without getting bogged down by its more challenging aspects.”


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