Some Ways to Reduce Family Stress Over The Holidays

    Time to give thanks for all our blessings? Tis the season to be jolly? Somehow, it doesn't always work out that way when it comes to families and holidays. These are the moments that are designed to bring us together, but more often tend to stress us out..  It doesn't have to be that way.

    1.                               Do Not Seek Perfection

    The classic perfect image of the holidays:  Fresh-fallen snow glistening outside and a roaring blaze crackling inside a giant, stone fireplace. Happy faces, hot chocolate and the gift that we always wanted. Reality? In most areas the snow comes from a can. Your three-year-old spilled the hot chocolate all over him and you. The wrapped box you have stared at for two weeks turned out to be a red tie with reindeers on it.

    Perfect holidays only exist in movies. We need to lessen the expectations. Seeking the perfect holiday only creates a high level of stress for you and everyone involved. Let things happen naturally.

    2.                               Reasons For The Seasons

    Usually lost in the mix of the holiday rush are the actual reasons we are celebrating. We worry about family members that don't get along. We stress over gift lists, budgets and menus. The tensions are so high that bickering and resentment become the featured guests at our gathering. Instead, try to maximize the importance of the holiday itself. The majority of holidays this time of year are faith based. Moments to reflect and display our appreciation for blessings that have been bestowed upon us. Focus on the reason and not the season.

    3.                               Acceptance

    We all have our opinions and we all think we are right. Try to keep your opinions in check and practice acceptance. No matter the family issue (and every family is full of them) put it aside at this special time. Declare your home a drama free zone for just this little bit of time.

    4.                               Declare A Truce

    Before the family gathering ever occurs, take preventive measures to reduce possible conflict. If you can, pinpoint the issues that are most likely to overtake center stage. Attempt to solve the problem(s) before the family gathers. If that isn't possible, arrange a holiday truce to be in effect. Facing a little discomfort now is better than around the holiday dinner table.

    5.                               Human Shields

    Children have delicate ears and innocent hearts. Use this to your advantage. If guilt works to get the adults to shape up, then use that tool without hesitation. Place the children in strategic locations throughout the entire celebration. Tongues will have to be held. Bad habits will be kept in check. Peace for the sake of the children will be declared. It might be sneaky but it works.

    6.                               Sing-A-Long

    Music calms even the most bitter of hearts. It might sound corny, but having the family gather to sing holiday classics is a perfectly brilliant idea. Consider yourself the pied piper. Whether around the piano, or a karaoke machine, get everyone involved in the singing. Smirks will be replaced with smiles. Laughter will begin to spread around the room. Music has remarkable abilities.

    7.                               The Governor Has Issued a Pardon

    It is time to forgive. You may have been at odds with a family member  for 10 years and nothing has been resolved. Issue a full and completely absolving pardon. Be the bigger person. Forgiveness can be the best gift you give this holiday! Use this season to begin a new and positive chapter in your family relationships.

    8.                               Sometimes You Just Have To Laugh

    Just like music, humor has astonishing abilities. Despite your best efforts to avoid it, a full-blown dramatic explosion has occurred right in your living room. Tears are flowing. The screaming match has begun. What are you going to do? First address both parties in a calm voice, then try to find something, anything to get them to laugh.  Once you can get them smiling and hopefully laughing, the tensions will wash away behind a tide of laughter.  You haven't solved the issue, but the drama bomb has been defused.

    9.                               Give Thanks

    In the bigger picture, isn't it wonderful to even have a family? So many people are completely alone in this world. Be thankful for our friends and family, our health, and the other blessings we often take for granted.


Last Modified on November 9, 2010