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George Burns once said: “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family… in another city.”  It’s no secret that family dynamics can add extra stress to the holiday season. We often sit down and eat with relatives with whom we have unresolved issues or disagree or who simply make us feel uncomfortable. We are around people we really don’t see that often for an extended period of time. My mom used to always say fish and family go bad after three days.  How true that is.  We have six tips for you to avoid family conflicts this holiday.

  • 1

    Adjust Your Attitude

    If you are already anticipating that a gathering will be stressful, your anxiety may get worse by the time the actual gathering begins. Instead of worrying about what will happen, choose behaviors that can help decrease your anxiety. Before the event, do something relaxing such as practicing yoga or listening to music. Think about the qualities you like about the people you will see, rather than focusing on the negative.

  • 2

    Take a Deep Breath Before Speaking

    If everyone counted to ten before spewing toxic emotions, more people would get along.  If someone says something to you that hurts or makes you upset, sometimes the best reaction is to remove yourself from the situation and take a beat. I can help prevent major blow-ups in front of the entire family.  If you only see these people once or twice a year, sometimes it is best to just ignore their rude remarks and take the high road. If you feel you have to address, do it privately on another day. Holidays are not the time to air out grievances

  • 3

    Don't Drink Too Much

    Some people become aggressive or argumentative when they’ve had too much to drink.  Alcohol can make us lose inhibitions and say or do things we will regret later.  Minimize your drinking or stick to non-alcoholic beverages. Avoid people who have had too much to drink, and don’t let them drive.

  • 4

    Stay Busy and Active

    It’s difficult to be drawn into an argument when engrossed in an activity that requires concentration, physical activity or laughter.  Play a game, take a walk, do something active or watch sports or a movie.

  • 5

    Avoid Toxic Topics

    Religion and politics are the two most obvious, especially in today's toxic environment. However, people also bring up sensitive subjects without thinking about how they might affect others. Don't ask if someone is getting married or having a baby. It is simply none of your business. Plan to keep conversation conflict-free by avoiding potentially sensitive topics, or simply ask what’s new and take it from there.

  • 6

    Be Grateful

    Take a time-out and think about all you have to be grateful for: a delicious meal, a warm home, good health, a friend or a sunny day.  You will feel much better and reduce anxiety by focusing on the things you enjoy and value.