Guest Post by Jennifer Scott
How to Keep Tensions Low and Focus on the Fun
We love the idea of spending time with those closest to us during the holidays, but a family can also be a source of high tension, especially for someone suffering from anxiety. Recounting old memories, troublesome debates regarding politics, and burnt food can all lead to high stress during a time when everyone should be focusing on the good in their lives.
Regardless of what happens at your next family meeting, you can maintain a sense of calm in the midst of chaos by keeping these happy-inducing tips in mind.
According to Popular Science, most people feel some form of stress, when it comes to their family. Despite what causes that tension, these types of feelings are typical. You are not alone, nor can you control everything. Stress is bound to arise when someone faces specific pressures and cannot live up to particular standards. However, you can defy these strains by just being you.
Try talking to someone, such as a friend or therapist, who can help put your situation into perspective. The tension that you experience is likely not about you at all. Revisit triggered childhood memories, pinpoint why you feel hurt and be gentle on yourself. Though you may not garner support from family, at least you’ll get better at handling the stress that comes from familial relations.
Have a Plan
We all have that annoying or toxic family member who likes to push our buttons at every opportunity. In this case, it’s best to shield ourselves from any potential negativity by thinking about how we will correspond to difficult questions, how we will return negative feedback, and ways to cope if things go awry.
Having a strategy is especially helpful if you’re a recovering addict who may receive a condescending retort upon mentioning that you are no longer drinking. Most importantly, you don’t have to explain why you choose not to drink because your personal life is your concern. However, if someone is persistently taunting you for a drink, knowing that you are in recovery, try responding with a simple, “No, thank you” or “I’m no longer drinking.” You don’t have to put up with peer pressure, and staying confident in your response is critical.
Assess Your Emotions
Thinking before you speak can cover a multitude of sins. However, when we allow our emotions to take hold, what we say can have significant consequences, according to No Bullying. We all go through situations that can sometimes get the best of us, but don’t believe what you feel because our emotions are fickle. This doesn’t mean that what you’re facing is invalid, but sometimes things aren’t what they seem.
Perhaps your sibling responds in a way that seems persnickety, or your mom comments that you’re looking a little worse for wear lately. In fact, they may be just expressing concern for you because they love you. Maybe you have been a bit stressed recently, and it’s beginning to show up in your appearance, so it’s best to take a step back and evaluate your feelings.
Just Have Fun
As cliche´ as it seems, time heals all wounds. Though old hurts may linger in small ways, if you let your feelings run their course, you usually do feel better over time, especially if they aren’t genuinely rooted memories. Any pent-up emotions that you experience can quickly be quelled by merely letting them go.
While an itinerary is exceptional, relinquishing expectations is far better. Everyone may not have the same plan as you, as an essential quality of attending family functions is to be together and enjoy each other’s company. Additionally, scheduling some “me time,” is especially helpful when things get a bit hectic.
Peace, love, and happiness are what makes life worth living. In the spirit of fun, commune in a way that leaves you feeling revived and connected, and you’ll see just how beautiful family is, indeed.
Meira Petersen is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LPCC). Meira received her Master's degree in Counseling Psychology from Southwestern College in Santa Fe, NM.