Minimize Holiday Stress with Relatives

Reading Level: Leisurely

Here’s a collection of tips, excerpts from 3 different authors, to reduce common stresses in holiday family gatherings.

[Since the holiday season is usually too busy for most people to read lengthy or thought-provoking articles, we’re posting a series of a few, practical holiday tip articles which should still be of immediate, daily benefit to your physical and emotional health.]

These tips by Connie Ragen Green are excerpts from her holiday stress article, Dealing With The Three Types of Difficult People. Use the link in the footnotes to read her full article.

  • The person who won’t stop talking –The best thing you can do for this person is to just listen. See i there are others who will share this listening with you. Try asking them about something that you are also interested in.
  • The person who has to be right –The best way to handle this person is to praise them. They will beam like a young child when you compliment them.
  • The person who has to be the center of attention – Ask their opinion on something. They will enjoy the chance to tell you what they think and may even have some great ideas.

These tips to minimize your stress while spending holidays with the relatives are excerpts from E.K. Tirado’s article, Three Ways to Cope with Difficult Relatives During the Holidays. Use the link in the footnotes to read the full article.

1) Change what you can, and do not fret about what you can’t change. Too many times the cause of our stress derives from our need to change people. Accept the fact that you cannot control other peoples’ actions, but you can control how you react to them. Don’t come to any event with unrealistic expectations.

2) Stay close to the “normal” family member. There is often one family member who you can actually hold an intelligent conversation with…someone you feel pretty good being around. My advice: Hang around with this family member…..often. Finds ways to spend time with that person whether it’s taking a post-meal walk around the neighborhood, or playing a game (or two or three) of checkers. If you have absolutely NO “normal” family members, then invite a “normal” person to attend an occasion with you.

3) Give yourself an important job. “Remove” yourself from the situation by giving yourself an important job. For example,decide that this year you will be the official family photographer. If you’re not much of a photographer, then give yourself another important job like tending to the turkey, making fancy swans with the table napkins, running to the store for last minute food items, Do whatever it is you have to do to keep busy, while still continuing to interact with family.

Lastly, you simply have to accept the fact that you don’t have the ability to change people, they must change themselves. The one person you can change is yourself. You can change how you react to things, how you view things and how you ultimately deal with things.

Dealing with Difficult Relatives for the Holidays by Kate Zabriskie, Business Training Works, Inc., offers these tips to reduce conflicts with your relatives. These are only excerpts. Use the link in the footnotes to read her full article.

1. Whatever the reason is that you are with your holiday crew, you are not obligated to call up feelings you don’t have.

2. Be civil no matter what. The last thing you want is for your negative reaction to overshadow the initial offense.

3. Figure out a couple of ways that you might rein in your reaction ahead of time. [Remember past irritations or confrontations by your relatives and come up with a plan of action or response to keep yourself calm, change the subject, and divert the attention.]

4. Consider journaling [rather than venting your feelings to your friends.]

5. Downtime is the smell of opportunity to difficult relatives. Your holidays will run more smoothly if there are plenty of activities to fill gaps. [games, walks, etc.]

6. Plan an entry and exit time, as well as a date for yourself, if you are going to someone else’s house. Do the same if a group is coming to yours. For example, “Bob and I would like you to come for Thanksgiving. If you could arrive between 11:00 and noon on Thursday that would give us time to get everything ready for you. We’ve also planned a big breakfast for Friday before everyone leaves.

7. Think about inviting more people to your holiday. When there are fifty people in attendance, it is much more difficult for a diva to be a diva.

8. Focus on the kids. Babies and little kids don’t fully understand weird family dynamics. Most of the time, discussions about babies are usually fairly benign.

9. Focus on the less fortunate. If, for example, at Thanksgiving everyone brings a gift for Toys for Tots or some other charity group, part of your discussion will naturally revolve around that.

Use these links to read the full articles by these authors:

Dealing with 3 Types of Difficult People at Holiday Time, Connie Ragen Green

Three Ways to Cope with Difficult Relatives During the Holidays, E.K. Tirado

Dealing with Difficult Relatives for the Holidays, Kate Zabriskie, Business Training Works, Inc.

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