Tips for When a Holiday Gathering Does Not Look Like A Hallmark Card

Another holiday has just passed! While this may be a time that you get together with family and friends, it’s important to realize that not everyone’s family dinner will look like a Hallmark card! For many, holiday gatherings are stressful and difficult. Here are some tips to help you get through the day!

1. Respect differences. You more likely than not cannot change a person’s behavior or opinion at one get-together. Be a role model and show respect for everyone’s opinion. Taboo topics are okay to avoid. If there is a topic that creates too much conflict for you or other family members, try to stay clear of that topic. Politics and religious differences are prime examples of this.

2. Keep your boundaries. It’s important to set boundaries around what you’re willing to share with others. Don’t leak all over everyone about everything. Respect each others privacy. In return, set limits for what you ask others about. It is not the time to ask your adult children when they’re going to have kids of their own. Don’t take it personally when others don’t want to share their concerns or issues with you.

3. Be inclusive. Everyone needs to feel special and important. Do your best to help other family members feel that way. Sometimes, compliments and noticing others diffuses stress and conflict. Notice your mother-in-law’s new dress, your brother’s new haircut, or your cousin’s new car.

4. Try not to get triggered. Often the dynamics of being at a family gathering with people who are very good at pushing our buttons creates a reactivity in us that can feel like we have regressed to our childhood way of dealing with things. Acckkk! Not good. Be kind to yourself and take breaks when you need them. Take the dog for a walk or just take 5 minutes in another room to remind yourself that you are still an adult and everyone has their issues that are playing out at the dining room table. You can choose how you want to react.

Hoping these tips help to make your holiday gathering a little more pleasant. As always, I’m only a call or email away!

2016-11-20T15:03:02+00:00 April 21st, 2014|0 Comments

About the Author:

Cindy practices psychotherapy in Aurora, Ontario. She sees couples and individuals and practices a variety of psychotherapeutic modalities including animal assisted therapy with her two Golden Retrievers, Romy and Aspen.

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