As the holiday seasons quickly approaches, it is important that we be prepared. All around us we are reminded of the holidays – from window displays at stores, to commercials on TV, to decorations around every corner. This time of year can be joyful, but for many it can also be challenging. While the holidays can be great for spending time with your loved ones, eating, and talking with others, they can also bring up painful memories of loved ones who passed away, facilitate arguments with family members with different beliefs, or be lonely for those who do not have family around.
According to Psychology Today, there are five techniques to consider when preparing for the holidays.
1. Create a game plan and be ready with a different response. It is important to create a plan for scenarios that may upset you. For example, if each year you and your uncle begin to discuss politics, which may lead to an argument, it may be beneficial to prepare for this year’s dinner. Instead of arguing, think about how you normally respond and what can you change about the dialogue to prevent an argument or uncomfortable situation.
2. Remove yourself from the scene of the uncomfortable event. If you are in a negative situation, excuse yourself a moment. For example, go to the bathroom, the back porch, the kitchen to get water, or somewhere where you can take deep breaths and relax for a moment. Removing yourself can help prevent negative situations from escalating.
3. Practice breathing.If you find yourself becoming angry and increasing tension, take a few minutes to breathe deeply and slowly. Breathing like this may reduce your tension and help you relax.
4. Find a buddy and have a code.If there is someone who makes you uncomfortable during holiday events, pick someone you trust such as a friend, sibling, or cousin and create a system. Let your trusted person know that if you make a certain gesture, you are feeling uncomfortable and would like to take a quick breather from the situation.
5. Consider doing something different this year. If you find holiday events to be overwhelming or uncomfortable, but would like to spend time with your family, try and schedule a smaller event with your immediate family. For example, schedule a get-together earlier in the day prior to a larger gathering. This may allow you to get together with your loved ones without putting yourself in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Author: Tiffany Araujo, M.S.