Coping With Sometimes Stressful Family Holidays

11/25/2011

Holiday stressOh family fun--marked by a game of tag football or ultimate frisbee in the park. Or maybe your family prefers to sit together watching the Thanksgiving Day parade and gabbing about what you’re thankful for this year. For those families where this is actually the case, cheers and congrats, but unfortunately, it's somewhat usual.

Often times, that enormous Thanksgiving spread doesn’t overshadow the stress that can accompany the holidays. For families that don’t often spend uninterrupted time together, the holiday season can be marked with tension, uneasiness, sadness, and anger.

If this is the case in your family, it’s best to have a plan. It’s best to go into family gatherings with tools in your de-stress toolbox. 

Morning Routine

If you’re staying with your family for a long period of time, make sure that you start your day right. It’s important to try and maintain a schedule while traveling in order to stay balanced during the holidays. I like to wake up in the morning and roll out of bed onto my yoga mat. I start my day with my yoga practice and meditation because without it, I’m more susceptible to stress. If yoga isn't your thing, consider a walk around the neighborhood or a quick jog.

Stay away from too much coffee or otherwise caffeinated beverages in order to avoid getting too amped up. 

Avoid Excessive Booze

The holidays are often marked with excessive alcohol which can be problematic in already stressful situations. Keep drinking to a minimal and make sure most of your drinking is done with a meal rather than on a empty stomach. Not only is drinking problematic while it’s happening, it can put you in a bad mood the next day.

Plan Activities

Planning activities is an ideal way of controlling family tension. Plan movie nights, board games, or outdoor games for the whole family. This way you’re not all sitting around trying to dig for stuff to talk about, instead there’s built-in fun.

This is also true of time apart. If you live a good distance from your extended family, you’re likely to spend at least a few days with the family. In these situations, it’s best to have activities that allow you to slip away for a few hours. Consider walking the dog in the park, catching a movie, or go shopping for a few hours. 

The bottom line is that getting along over the holidays is as much about listening as it is about talking. Sometimes adding your two cents isn’t worth the effort or the response. You’re not there to prove anything about who you are or who you’ve become in your time away from home. Relax and enjoy your time together.

Photo: Thinkstock

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More on the Holidays 
Holiday Health Guide
Enjoy The Holidays Without Gaining Weight 
Holiday Dating Drawbacks (and How to Manage Them) 


Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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