I recently wrote a guest post for the blog With the Huddlestons about the importance of good communication, and it seems the topic resonated with many of you. Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard from several readers asking for more suggestions about how to reduce family stress and promote healthy communication over the holiday season.
As reader ‘S’ explained it, “I love my family more than anything, but 72 hours with everyone in the same house and I’ve reached my limit! We’re all on each other’s nerves.”
And S is right; while extra time with family and friends during the holidays is often filled with joy, laughter, and fun, it can also lead to complications, short tempers, and misunderstandings.
Fortunately, there are some simple strategies that you can implement to improve communication and reduce family stress. Keep them on your radar, and you’ll be enjoying the “most wonderful time of the year” to its fullest extent.
How to Quickly Reduce Family Stress This Season: 5 Tested Tips
‘Tis the season to be patient and kind.
Yes, I realize this is easier said than done, but I urge you to make the above statement your motto this season. You see, by simply repeating this mantra in your mind when you find yourself on edge, you will help cool your temper and return to a calmer mindset.
Really! It’s science.
As Psychology Today reports, repeating a single word or phrase to yourself “quiets the system responsible for your mind wandering, thinking about your past, or planning your future” and ultimately helps “calm your mind.”
So if you feel your frustration building, remind yourself that everyone has a reason for their actions, and usually that reason is well-intentioned.
It’s true; we’re all doing our best.
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Find Common Ground
If you can feel the tension building, challenge yourself to find common ground with the other person.
As I mentioned above, we are all doing our best, and our actions are usually well-intentioned; actively search for that good intention.
If you’re butting heads with a family member about making plans, giving gifts, or where to spend the holidays, for example, remember that deep down, you’re both seeking a special, memorable holiday. You both want to provide a positive, joyful experience for your family.
By recognizing that common ground, you have a starting point from which you can both talk rationally about the situation. I promise you’ll have a much easier time striking a compromise upon which everyone can agree.
When you gather several different people together for an extended period of time, you’re bound to have some differing opinions, and that’s okay! In fact, it’s only natural.
The good news is that holidays are a great opportunity to practice compromise. As mentioned above, you’re all working toward a common goal, and if you can highlight that greater objective for everyone, people generally approach compromise with an open mind.
Looking for strategies to practice compromise? You got it!
Share the Choices:
If you’re debating what activity to pursue, have one person suggest the general activity and the other person choose the specifics.
For example, if I choose to go to the movies, you pick which film we’ll see. If you choose shopping, I select which mall we’ll attend, etc.
Split the Difference:
This compromise is especially helpful when deciding on topics concerning time. If you want to stay at the holiday party for four hours, and I only want to stay for two, we can split the difference and stay for three.
If you get to make the decision this time, then it’s someone else’s turn the next time. Swap back and forth so everyone has a say.
Do it All!
Can’t decide whether you’ll go sledding or ice skating? Find a location that offers both and DO BOTH. While this suggestion doesn’t work for everything, there are often times when you can address the needs of all parties at least partially.
Take a Breather
Sometimes, the best thing you can do in a tense environment is to step away for a bit. If you’re in a situation that’s stressing you out or spiraling out of control, it might be time to take a break.
Once you’ve rediscovered your inner peace, you can return to the previous situation with more patience and understanding.
Practice Makes Perfect
If things don’t go well for one activity, don’t throw in the towel. Instead, begin each activity, conversation, and experience with a “fresh start.” Remember demonstrating patience, finding common ground, and striking a compromise all take practice, so keep working at it. If everyone makes an effort, you’ll be reducing family stress in no time.
There you have it, friends! My top 5 tips to reduce family stress this holiday season. What are your favorite ways to reduce family stress? What are your holiday plans? How do you practice patience? Share your thoughts below!