Ways to Avoid Family Conflict During the Holidays

Nov 12th, 2015


Family Having Argument Sitting Around Table Eating Meal

Thanksgiving and the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, right? If we are to believe the massive marketing machine, the approaching holidays are filled with happy families and couples, who prepare perfect meals, have perfect homes, and spend family gatherings in perfect harmony. When our lives don’t quite match up, we may feel disappointed or depressed. Certainly, the holidays CAN be wonderful, but some may need to prepare ahead of time to deal with increased stress and potential conflicts at family gatherings.

Stress is on the rise in America and it increases with the holidays, particularly for women who feel the need to pull off large meals and gatherings and shopping. Money stress is a factor as well for many individuals and families during the holidays.

Many people reported looking forward to the holidays as a time of good cheer. The holidays are the time of year when people report focusing more on their friends and on their family. Stress does increase for certain groups during the holidays: those who feel particular responsibility for the family, like women, and those who struggle to find the extra income to afford the holidays, like lower middle income individuals. Holiday Stress Research

As the turkeys get ready to go into the oven and holiday party invitations start going out, here are a few ways to avoid family conflict during the holidays:

Don’t over-schedule – pick the most important (and fun!) parties and gathering to attend. Saying “no, thank you” may save you on extra stress.

Anticipate stressors in advance – where were the problem areas in the past? What situations were uncomfortable or simply unacceptable? Identify and then choose if you are willing to be in that situation again.

Plan restorative time for yourself – make a day spa appointment! Ensure you are getting enough sleep and maintaining as normal of a schedule as possible.

Prepare neutral responses in advance – There are a couple ways to save your sanity at family gatherings, says Dr. Jeffrey Greeson, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine, in Durham, N.C.. If you know there are going to be conflicts, prepare a neutral response, such as, “Let’s talk about that another time,” or, “I can see how you would feel that way.”

Then escape to the restroom, offer to help in the kitchen, or go hang out with the kids. And it always helps to call a good friend if you need a sympathetic ear. (CBS tips for avoiding triggers)

Help others – find meaning in the season by offering to volunteer or contribute to a favorite cause. Focus on the positives of the holiday season rather than the stress.

Start the family gatherings with a gratitude practice – get in the swing of the holiday season by asking everyone to share what they are grateful for! Beginning with a positive may help everyone stay positive.

Take a deep breath and say “no, thank you” – saying no may be your best bet for the most intense situations. Keep a smile on your face and simply decline.

All of us at Fire Power Seminars wish you and yours a healthy, stress-free holiday season! For those that may need some empowerment sessions (did we mention board breaking is a great way to relieve stress?), contact Karen at 954.232.4486 or Karen@FirePowerSeminars.com

Karen Pfeffer
Karen is passionate about sharing powerful programs on communication, empowerment, team building and transformation. With a father from Kansas and a mother from Puerto Rico, Karen has a unique cultural mix that has inspired her to challenge stereotypes and “push the envelope” at every opportunity. She co-founded Fire Power Seminars with Connie Phelan in 2006 to empower individuals, organizations, and companies to achieve more than they ever thought possible.

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