90 percent report stressing over the holiday season while 65 percent predict a family fight at the holiday dinner table. (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/family-first-aid-for-holiday-stress-231736521.html)
Thanksgiving is here in just a couple of days, and with that comes not just excitement of having a day off from work, but also giving thanks for the blessings we have been given over the past year. As the day nears, grocery shopping, travel, and the thought of the craziness of “Black Friday” can be extremely stressful. We quickly forget that with family and friends gathering together can come unresolved conflict. Whether it is old hurts or the stresses of everyday life, how we choose to respond to our friends and family during holiday gatherings can either connect us or further tear us apart.
Being with a group of people, we feel that we have more support when we feel like “airing” out our grievances with others. We ultimately cannot control what people say and do to us, but we can choose to control how we respond (verbally or non-verbally). We can decide whether to allow our emotions to take over or to step back, and we become aware of whether or not saying or doing something will help or hurt a situation.
As adults we also have to remember that we set the tone of the time we share with others. Our children watch how we interact and deal with conflict. They also observe and learn how we operate with the world around us.
If alcohol is included in the celebrations, mindfulness of our limits is vital because our social inhibitions can be lowered with increased alcohol consumption. Lowered inhibitions can impact the way we present ourselves in social settings and can cause behaviors that we later regret like aggression, self-disclosure, and violent acts.
Ways you can help reduce conflict
- Be present and enjoy the time you have with family and realize that there are many other people in this world that are alone or have lost family members that they wish they could spend time with.
- Resist the urge to be like Martha Stewart: Be yourself and you would be surprised at how creative you can be.
- If a conflict presents itself, try not to let your emotions take control, but be aware of what emotions you are feeling, if they have anything to do with what is going on at the moment, and what would be the best way to respond.
- If you need to confront someone about an issue that is happening at that moment, take them aside, away from everyone and express what is bothering you with respect using statements like “I feel…”, not “you make me feel.”
- When you are feeling your emotions heating up, it is okay to ask for space and time to cool down. Leave the room, take a walk, count to 10, take a deep breath, and/or give yourself a time-out so that you can decompress any feelings of stress, anxiety, or anger.
- If you feel like you “screwed up” or “gave in” to conflict, remember that we all make mistakes and a lot of times it is not about our mistakes, but how we take ownership for our part in the conflict.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!!