Yesterday we spoke about stress in general during the holiday period. Today on day 3 of our 12 days of Christmas Blog Series we will look at dealing with family stress.
Family dynamics can be a major source of stress and frustration at Christmas hence the reason they say you can’t choose your family. With a mixture of age, backgrounds, environmental factors, personalities and past experiences all coming into play, there is a high likelihood of clashes and butting of heads.
In fact surveys have shown that during Christmas, on average, a family will have up to 5 fights, heated discussions or arguments on Christmas Day. All the more reason to learn how to keep your cool and maintain a peaceful environment.
Here is our top 5 tips for dealing with family at Christmas
1. You can only change yourself: No matter how annoying you find a family member, or how many times you have given advice that isn’t used, a family member won’t change unless they want to. The only person you can change is yourself. Often when you change, you can become an inspiration to family members around you and they will want to change too. If they don’t want to change, then that is their journey they need to walk. I hear some of you saying “But they are so frustrating!” Yes that may be the case, so what you need to do is ask yourself what is it about that person that frustrates you? What habit or emotion are they displaying that is causing me to become frustrated? Because when it comes down to it, we are in charge of our emotions and are choosing to become frustrated, annoyed, angry etc. Think about these questions and ask yourself where do I display this behaviour or emotions in my life? Often you will find their behaviour that is frustrating or annoying you is a reflection of yourself! Ooh deep, I know, but true! Try it out.
2. Think before you speak: Taking that little extra time to think before you say something you might regret is important. During that time between thinking and speaking, your neurons in your brain move from the amygdala, which is the fear centre of the brain, to the more evolved and sophisticated part of the brain. This in essence means, the first initial thought we blurt out is often fear based and a reaction to the feeling of being attacked. That couple of second pause is an important aspect in order to process things and form a more rational response. Wait until someone finishes speaking rather than interrupting them and take that extra couple of seconds to process before speaking.
3. Avoid excessive drinking: Keep your drinks in check, things can escalate quickly when under the influence. If other family members are overindulging and creating chaos, make a choice to leave.
4. Be a good guest: Start off on a good foot, offer to bring something, offer to help out on the day with dishes, preparation or cleaning up. Also ensure to clean up after yourself and your kids if you have them. Keep an eye on your kids also and remind them that they are in someone else’s house so it is nice to be respectful and look after their home. Treat your hosts and their home like you would want to be treated. Just because you are visiting relatives for Christmas, it doesn’t mean you are on vacation, be responsible.
5. Focus on the positives: “Where focus goes, energy flows.” Keep your attention on the positives of Christmas Day, focus on what you are grateful for, what’s really important and not the things that are going to annoy you on the day. Commit yourself to having fun, enjoying the day and spending quality time with loved ones. Your thoughts become your reality, so focus on the positives and leave the negatives and assumptions at the door.