Yup, it’s that time of the year again! Everyone is bustling around, cooking and cleaning, decorating and shopping and…stressing. Stress often comes from feeling pressure to deliver the goods and fulfill the expectations of family members and friends, but it can also come from interacting with loved ones. Sounds counterintuitive, right? But I bet we’ve all been there. Sibling rivalries can quickly fester and work their way to the surface. Adult children are startled at gut responses to their parents..and visa versa. Tensions can rise and what you thought were old forgotten resentments are all of a sudden front and center. We’re all grown-ups, right? Why do so many of us get triggered at this time of year and what can we do about it? Not everyone is as jovial and as easy to get along with as this guy!
As is the case for most scenarios in life, the key is preparation. I’ve found that it’s really helpful to take stock in what and who you’ve found to be challenging during past holidays (or just in general) and create some safety valves that have had some thought put into them ahead of time. Most of the time it is our response to the bait that results in us becoming bogged down in emotional quagmire. If we are aware of our own triggers, we can side step potential problems. Don’t assume that it is magically going to be better or be different this year. Maybe you’ll get lucky – but chances are that if it’s occurred in the past, it will likely occur again. History does have a way of repeating itself unless something is done differently.
So be as wise as an owl. Take a few moments before the happy onslaught and think about your triggers. Honor your feelings while understanding that a good general always prepares. They maximize their strengths while keeping the scenarios that pose potential challenges in check. Are the holidays a battlefield? They certainly don’t have to be! And one more thing – cut yourself a break and take little snippets of selfie-time. Sneak away for a few minutes, close your eyes and take some nice deep breaths. I’ve even been known to fabricate a quick errand to the grocery store in order to nab 10 minutes of alone time. Whew, close one!