The holiday season is often exciting because you get to eat good food and spend time with loved ones. However, it can also be stressful, even under normal circumstances. You may experience added stress if you deal with family conflict during holiday gatherings. Fortunately, those conflicts do not have to put a damper on your holiday cheer. There are ways to manage family conflict.
Tips to Minimize Conflict
Conflict among family members may make you feel as though you are losing your mind. Fortunately, it is entirely possible to maintain your sanity and put a stop to family conflict using the following tips:
- Lower the bar – Perhaps you envision a holiday gathering where everyone is happy, no one argues, and the food is cooked to perfection. Unfortunately, that is an unrealistic expectation. If you set your expectations too high, you will find yourself disappointed when things do not work out. Lower the bar and accept that things may go wrong and not everything is perfect. If you do, you will feel more relaxed and ready if things go south.
- Handle conflict appropriately – Your are bound to deal with family conflict during holiday gatherings. When conflict arises, make sure you handle it appropriately by identifying the level of conflict. Mild conflict may arise over a minor disagreement. Handle it with an open mind and ear to see it from both sides. If things rise to the next level, divert the conversation or separate people into different rooms.
- Avoid triggers – If you know your family is prone to conflict, avoid triggers that may intensify the conflict. For instance, make it an alcohol-free gathering. Alcohol, if drank irresponsibly, can bring out the worst in people. If a family member drinks to excessively, it may exacerbate any existing conflicts.
- Agree to disagree – Just because a family member says something you disagree with does not mean that you need to argue your point. Instead, take the high road. Agree to disagree so that you can avoid a potential conflict.
- Set ground rules – Make sure you set ground rules before everyone arrives. They need to know that certain behaviors are not tolerated in your home.
- Excuse yourself – If you are attending a holiday gathering at another relative’s home, do not be afraid to excuse yourself. There is no need to stay in an uncomfortable situation. If things get out of hand or you start to lose your cool, excuse yourself politely.
- Create laugher – Dealing with family conflict during holiday gatherings is not fun for anyone. If at all possible, try to lighten the mood. Keep everyone laughing with clean, fun jokes and funny family stories that you know will not offend anyone. Laughter is sometimes the best line of defense when moods start to turn sour.
If you find that your stress and anxiety has increased as the holiday season approaches, seek out the help of a therapist. A therapist can help you manage your stress and anxiety will providing additional information on you can handle family conflict holiday gatherings.
Monica Ramunda is a solution-focused therapist with an office located in Louisville, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).