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Mental Health

Ways to make holiday family gatherings less stressful

Family reunions are enjoyable for some people because cousins travel long distances to catch up, dine, drink, and have fun.

And then there are the rest of us. There are our in-laws or relatives who question us about our skills in management yet are unable to identify what we do. Then there’s our sister, who is constantly attempting to sell us pricey face care items. All of this can combine to make “the most joyful time of the year” among the most stressful. It can also make us nervous before, during, and then after family parties.

The excellent thing is that you can develop conversational skills to help you turn conversations around, set limits, and avoid conflicts.

Many of your relatives and friends’ stressors may be caused by them or arise from more sophisticated family situations. It is crucial to realize that it is not your duty to repair everything. Adopting steps to strengthen these connections, on the other hand, can assist with dealing with the stress that family reunions can offer and, in the best-case scenario, result in greater family ties.

Why should we aim to strengthen our communication with our family?

Scientific evidence indicates that good relationships are necessary for optimal health. Why? There are numerous psychological and physiological factors for this, but the most important is social support. Social support refers to relationships with those who allow one to feel loved, respected, and cared for. According to the research, these connections improve your physical and mental wellness, lower your anxiety levels, and even help you find your life’s mission.

Yet, healthy marriages are dependent on good interaction. It is something we learn rather than something we are born with. Luckily, it’s not ever too late to refresh and enhance your communication skills in order to develop healthy connections in your life.

Why are family events so upsetting?

Everyone is different, and the complexities of familial relationships make this a difficult issue to explain, yet there are a few typical causes why family events can be stressful.

  • Values and perspectives that differ
  • Differences in the level of communication ability and empathy
  • Differences in how different generations of family members perceive the world
  • Bad emotions from previous experiences are affecting the present time.
  • Provoking topics that come up during conversations (a trigger is something that brings up a painful memory and is often distressing)
  • Different levels of ease with discussing personal details about one’s life (such as one’s relationship, family life, or work).
  • Feeling uneasy with someone because of how they have behaved or reacted in the past
  • Long periods of quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative social impact.

Setting Limits with Your Family

Setting limits can be among the nicest options we can do to take better care of ourselves and strengthen our relationships with family. When someone asks us to do something, whether it’s host a celebration, give someone a lift, or prepare something unique, we frequently feel obligated to say yes.

This could be motivated by a wish to avoid conflict or a worry of failing that individual. Even so, it is critical to be loyal to your principles and value your happiness and peace. One major approach to accomplish this is to avoid over-committing in order to impress others.

But how do you determine whether the topic is something you wish to fulfill or something you feel compelled to do? When we are nervous, our emotions can become complicated, so here’s some advice.

Take a long breath and concentrate on being alert. Does the prospect of answering yes make you joyful and excited? Or does it make you nervous? If it’s the second, it’s a pretty strong indication that you’re not okay doing this.

It’s time to establish a limit with the other person so that you’re both on the same page about what you’re okay with and so that expectations are clear. These are some general suggestions to assist you in setting limits.

  • Understand the significance of your needs. Whether it’s your time, your privacy, or your serenity, You deserve to give priority to self-care. If you fail to take care of yourself first, You won’t be capable of devoting yourself to taking care of other people.
  • Make a plan. Prepare your remarks ahead of time so that you feel assured and ready to speak. It can also help to practice it or run it by somebody you trust.
  • Be direct but gentle. When establishing your limits, be direct but gentle. These aren’t simple conversations for either party.
  • Be reasonable. Consider the situation at hand and the limits that you’re establishing genuinely. Assess how you think about the long term as well.
  • Maintain your resolve. After you’ve expressed your limits, hold your ground and remain consistent.
  • Determine the consequences of your actions. Consequences accompany borders. Make it clear what will occur if the limit is not followed, and then follow through.
  • Remember that you have the choice to walk away. If the relationship is unhealthy and affecting your well-being, it’s okay to distance yourself from that person – either for a short period or forever. The same is true for interactions that are toxic or useless.

Methods for Improving Your Communication Skills

First and foremost, it is essential to be conscious of how you interact. Then practice replacing toxic abilities in communication with ones that are beneficial. The more you perform, the more it will become easy and automatic.

Here are some positive interaction tips to work on:

Make use of attentive listening. Listening is not the same as hearing. Listening is more active than hearing. Pay close attention and copy or rephrase what someone says to show understanding and participation in the discussion. If you’re unsure of what somebody is saying, ask questions.

Assume good intentions and attempt to understand. Reduce your assumptions and accept the fact that somebody else might have an alternative point of view, which is fine! Hearing other people’s points of view is beneficial because it keeps our minds flexible and interested, and it develops empathy. Ask clarifying questions, but do not interrogate. Instead of asking, “Did you complete that work?” you may ask, “How is that work going?”

Be conscious of your physical language. Someone observing you picks up on your body language just as much as they do on the words you’re using. Are your arms crossed defensively? Take note of your facial reactions. Are you maintaining direct eye contact? Take note of if your voice of speech is calm or angry. Being aware of such things and calming into a more balanced physical state can also help you feel grounded and peaceful.

Be Forceful Instead of being passive-aggressive. Being a passive attacker can imply expressing unpleasant emotions and being disobedient in an indirect manner. For instance, rather than stating, “We may attempt this, but I doubt it will work,” instead, “Can we discuss additional methods to do this?” When you are assertive, you use “I” statements rather than “you” remarks and offer feedback when it is sought. And when you get concerned, you share rather than take over the stage.

Proactively avoid and fix disagreements. Be careful when you suspect there may be a disagreement. Ensure that your body language displays respect. Stay cool and consider for a couple of minutes before replying. Also, ask questions without passing criticism on somebody or their opinions. It’s critical to reach a point where you both understand what the issue is. If you both realize there was a fundamental miscommunication, the problem may even dissolve in the process.

Allow people the opportunity to change. Give someone an opportunity to show up unexpectedly if they are making great adjustments and mending problems in your relationship. The majority of us would be happy to have the same opportunity if it were our situation. It takes a lot of sincerity to attempt to make changes, and that real effort is an excellent place to start on the way to happier relationships.

Self-care and relationship maintenance

Holidays can be hectic for a multitude of causes. When the kids refuse to dress and you scent something burning in the microwave, you might wonder if this is truly a “holiday.”

Stress may also interact with additional psychological disorders such as depression or anxiety. Depressed emotions during the holidays are a serious but curable worry. According to research studies, rates of depression peak around the holidays. We understand that you have activities to arrange, gifts to give, miles to go, and, of course, your wonderfully flawless family to spend time with.

However, when all of those challenging relationships knock on your door, understanding how to focus on yourself might be useful. Meditation and good interactions are two of the most effective methods to increase emotional resilience, reduce stress, and make difficult conversations easier (and less feared).

It can be quite beneficial to have a conversation with an expert in mental health about all of this. They can assist you in managing difficult family relationships and, perhaps most significantly, can advise you on how to fight for your psychological health and serenity at all times.