Sometimes getting together with family is as much fun as a day at the dentist. You know you’re gonna get poked and prodded and at some point, someone’s gonna hit a nerve. Each time I go into a gathering, I tell myself it doesn’t have to be that way but as soon as we get together, we seem to fall into our old roles.
Being the youngest of five, I still find myself having to explain my feelings and beliefs, even if some of my siblings agree with me. Forget about the fact that I run and own my business. I turn right back into that eight year old kid who’s input doesn’t matter, feeling completely ignored. I’m not sure if it’s my issue or something they put out there, but we’re all pretty strong willed and we don’t like to go unheard. This trait pays off in business most of the time but when you’re eating dinner with four others just like you, it can become pretty unpleasant.
With the holidays upon us, I figure it’s a good time to practice tolerance and patience. It’s a high order but I’ve got five proven ways to keep my cool. Give ’em a shot and enjoy the season:
When my brother starts talking politics, especially these days, it takes the level of anxiety in the room up ten notches. I know I’ll never change his mind, so instead of listing reasons for why I feel differently, I force myself to take four long breaths. Inhale through your nose for 6 counts, hold your breath for 4 counts and slowly exhale for 8 counts. Do it four times, without making it obvious and smile. Trust me all that crazy talk will wash right through you.
2. Maintain your sense of control.
When we feel helpless, we turn into victims and our self esteem takes a nose dive. Keep your cool, walk away from an argument and find an ally you can chat with. No one near? Take a bathroom break and repeat Step #1.
3. Focus on the good.
We all know people who’ve had it worse than us; a friend with cancer, a neighbor going through a bad divorce, a colleague struggling with depression.
Be grateful for the day you’re having and the opportunity to gather with family, even if some of them drive you crazy. Wouldn’t you rather have them near than miss them due to some tragic illness or unfortunate event? Gratefulness turns negative thoughts to positive ones and there’s no better way to get positive than appreciating what we have.
4. Enjoy the food & drink.
Ignore the talk and focus on the food. Eat slowly, enjoying every bite of whatever’s on your plate. Most gatherings have food and drink so use the day to relish it. Chew each bite at least 15 times and slowly drink your beverage to make it last. Bonus! When we eat and drink slowly, we usually eat and drink less. Bonus #2! It keeps our mouth occupied and helps us avoid saying things we may regret later.
5. Conquer anger with love.
Too upset to give them a hug? Smile and find a distraction to carry you away. Saying nothing back is better than fighting and sometimes just a smile will stop a rant. If you have to say anything, maybe stick with “What’s the score?” and move on to the room where the game is playing.
I have wonderful siblings and each of them is amazing in their own way. We can’t help it if we’re all strong-willed and outspoken. We were raised by strong parents so we’re bound to express ourselves in similar ways.
And that’s just it. Even though our parents are gone, each time we gather I feel them with us and know they’d love to see us laughing and enjoying each other instead of fighting.
Face it, as we get older our days of family gatherings become fewer, but with a little luck, we’ll have plenty more ahead of us. I hate to take my family for granted and I refuse to let petty disagreements get in the way of enjoying them. So join ME and enter the season happy and hopeful.
Oh and one more thing… never go empty handed! Bring the host/hostess a special gift – nab them a MAJAMAS EARTH Gift Box. You’ll save time and money on every one and I promise you’ll always be welcomed back.
Just like flossing and brushing our teeth, healthy habits pay off and practicing healthy ways to avoid conflict may be just what we need to help us sail through the season pain-free.
– Germaine Caprio, MAJAMAS EARTH Company Owner & Designer
Let ME know:
What do you do to ease seasonal social anxiety?
Please share your own thoughts with us – let’s get a conversation started in the comments below!