You're not alone if you're dreading your visit with family this Thanksgiving. In my therapy practice, the holidays brings up a lot for people as they consider how they're going to navigate the potential family land mines. You may be concerned about shaky family relationships going south when mixed with excessive alcohol consumption at the Thanksgiving table. Others get emotionally triggered around family of origin issues that continue to play out into adulthood. But it doesn't have to be a highly stressful event for you, unless you allow it to be. Below are four family-drama stress busters. You and your partner can follow the tips for a more peaceful and calm Thanksgiving with the family.
- Face the reality that as much as we'd sometimes like to, we cannot control the behavior of others. If you tend to excessively worry about how people will "be" with each other, challenge yourself to stop taking on other people's stuff.
- If there is an issue between two adults, let them work it out. It's not yours to own.
- If you are going home to visit family and are concerned about others' behavior towards you, set healthy boundaries for yourself and erect your own protective emotional shield.
- Before the event, formulate a plan for emotional support from your partner. Remove yourself from uncomfortable situations and take a walk if needed — or simply leave.
When it comes to managing stress, regardless of whether it's around the Holidays or the daily grind, it's about awareness of your stress triggers, questioning your stress reaction and most importantly, self-care. It's also important to remember that the stress response involves your physiology. If your fight or flight system is activated, it may be difficult to manage your reactivity. Consider things you can do to take care of yourself and to soothe your nervous system. Self-care will look different for everyone but it might be a vigorous walk outside in the crisp winter air, sitting by the fire with a cup of tea, or simply excusing yourself and focusing on a few deep breaths. Learn more about how to build up your emotional resilience during this time.
Relationship-care is also important, especially if the holidays are stressful for either of you. Rather than allow external stressors to cause strain on your relationship, look at these challenges as an opportunity to band together with your partner. Do your best to be sensitive and supportive of what's going on.
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