The holidays can be a joyous time to get together with friends and family. However, for many, the holidays also bring feelings of stress and anxiety. If you are stressed thinking about this upcoming holiday season, you are not alone.
According to a 2015 study conducted by Healthline.com, a leading consumer health information source, about 63% of respondents said they were somewhat to very stressed out thinking about the holiday season. Some of the major stressors are money & finances, holiday eating & drinking, finding just the right gifts, and just not having enough time to get everything done. However, one of the biggest stressors looming for many of us, is managing family dynamics & conversations, especially during this time of political polarization in our country. The American Psychological Association created a Holiday Stress Resource Center which has an entire section on Managing Conversations When You Disagree Politically.This site provides some excellent tips to guide conversation in more positive directions. They are:
- Find areas where you agree.
- Be open and kind.
- Keep calm when tensions rise.
- Have conversation goals. We also think that sometimes the goal might be to avoid discussing anything that you know could be volatile.
- Accept that you may not be able to change the other person’s mind. In fact it’s probably very unlikely that you would change the other person’s mind and it is better to try and understand the viewpoints of others by being curious.
- Disagreeing with someone you care about is okay.
- Know when to end the conversation.
- Be proactive. This point suggests planning activities ahead of time that foster fun and laughter so that you can focus on love and joy. Purchase a couple of our Kids’ Art Boxes or plan an art or craft activity on your own. Arts and crafts are the perfect intergenerational activities. Try also breaking out some old fashioned board games, or a card game like SET.
Here are a few more tips:
- Take a walk down memory lane. Get out the photo books and home videos to reminisce with your family about shared experiences. This is a great way to look back, get some great laughs and unwind from the day-to-day craziness over the holidays.
- Go outside and be active. Often, sitting inside for too long can make us all start to go a little stir crazy. While the food is cooking, head outside with the family and start a game of flag football or soccer. Perhaps, you can take a stroll around the block or go for a family bike ride. Getting some fresh air and doing something active together can relieve stress and be a great way to bond with one another.
- Take a less stressful approach to the holiday meal. Often, preparing for and cooking the meal can be one of the biggest stressors during the holiday season. Reduce the amount of stress by doing a family-style pitch in, where everyone brings a side dish or dessert, and you only worry about the main course. Or try assigning each member a “shift” to be in the kitchen preparing, having a non-traditional dinner such as a big pot of chili or pasta or going out to eat. A number of restaurants offer great holiday meal deals or take out.
Check out theManaging Conversations When You Disagree Politically article for more detail. Happy holidays!