Have you ever had a stressful holiday, or a family gathering that didn’t end well? If so, you are not alone!

The social and family parties that dot your calendar from November to January can be wonderful times of conversation, laughter, and warm memories. But they can also be tense and uncomfortable.

Schedules and diets are different. Vacationing kids get bored easily. Time to exercise can be sparse. When all this comes together, tempers flare and relationships become strained.

Add in the fact that family visits often expose old, unresolved pain, and you have a recipe for stress.

“Families are like fudge – mostly sweet, with a few nuts” 

Whether you are hosting or traveling, making a brief or extended visit, cooking or eating out, your moments of stress can be handled well or they can ruin your day. This year, would you like to increase the pleasure of the season and limit the spikes in your blood pressure?

The Secret to your Success

The key to getting the results you want is recognizing where your power lies. You may want to stop others from doing or saying the wrong things, but the only one you can control is you!

When tensions rise, follow these five steps to handle your unavoidable stress well and keep the happy in your holidays:

  1. Feel. How does your body respond to stress? Is your jaw clenched? Is there a knot in your stomach or tension in your head, neck, or shoulders? Be mindful and aware of what you feel. When you notice tension in your body, go on to the next step.
  2. Breathe. Your body’s automatic response to stress is shallow breathing, which limits blood flow to the brain and cripples your ability to think clearly. When you feel stress, remember to breathe deeply. Each time you inhale, make your lower abdomen move, not just your upper chest.
  3. Think. Don’t over react. Use the extra oxygen and brain power to consider your needs and options. Planning ahead helps reduce your last minute stress. Have a backup plan too, in case you need it. Strategize… and keep breathing deeply.
  4. Talk. Don’t hold it in, but don’t share stress and anxiety with your kids. Find an adult and talk. Fear grows in the dark and shrinks in the light. Reduce fear (and stress) by discussing your expectations with someone else… and keep breathing deeply.
  5. Drinkwater! Hydration affects blood pressure, digestion, hypertension, and headaches. Alcohol may feel like a better solution, but water will help you think clearly and enable you to choose your words carefully. Make sure you drink more water than coffee, tea, or alcohol.

~ Feel ~ Breathe ~ Think ~ Talk ~ Drink ~

It’s a simple holiday recipe. Try it, and fully enjoy a less stressful season!