The carols, commercials, and TV shows flooding the airwaves currently want us to believe that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” We’re led to imagine that every family enjoys gathering together for a big holiday celebration – young children play well together, aunts and uncles engage in genial conversation, adult children and parents see eye-to-eye, in-laws welcome with open arms.
And yet for many people reality is drastically different. Expectations are high, individuals are stressed, loved ones yell, and blame, and spread guilt. Many find the holidays a reminder of how their families are not like those portrayed on TV and have only begrudgingly agreed to attend a family meal.
Scripps Health, an not-for-profit health care organization in California, recommends the following coping skills to deal with difficult family during the holidays:
Adjust your attitude
Have realistic expectations
Keep potentially upsetting topics off-limits
Accept that the only thing you can control is your reaction
Don’t drink too much
Bring a happy reminder
Take a deep breath – or five
If you’re looking for other resources to help you prepare for a more enjoyable holiday with your relatives, one during which past rifts are mended and current hurts are managed, consider one of the following books.
And if Uncle Eddie drinks too much and makes off-color comments, or Dad constantly brings up the mistakes you made in the past, or Grandma keeps asking when you’re going to settle down – try this box breathing technique to reduce anxiety.
In stressful times you can use the power of your breath to help calm feelings of stress or anxiety. Box breathing is a simple relaxation technique that can help you ‘reset your breath’ and return it to its normal rhythm. This video demonstrates box breathing and highlights its benefits.