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Holidays, Relatives, and Keeping Our Sanity

It’s that time of year where family and friends gather for festivities and holiday cheer. But sometimes, cheer is in short supply, especially when relationships experience conflicts. Turmoil within our closest relationships can sometimes make or break our holiday spirit. It does not matter how old you are, get-togethers can be challenging. So as the holidays progress, here are some helpful reminders of improving and maintaining healthy relationships with friends and family to enjoy the most of this season and the end of 2014.
First off, believe and understand that you are not the only one having a difficult time. By acknowledging that others may be experiencing similar difficulties, it may help reduce feelings of inadequacy or self-criticism when you engage with friends and family.

Next, consider your current emotional state and ask yourself if you typically feel frustrated or aggravated with those around you. It’s a difficult task, but if you are reacting and responding to others differently than you usually do, it’s beneficial to return to your typical emotional state.

When you find yourself stressed, frustrated or aggravated, take a moment for yourself. Taking a break and even removing yourself from challenging situations can reduce conflict and internal turmoil. For example, you can leave the room for a few moments or even go for a walk to reduce negative emotional experiences.
Also, when friends or family say something less appealing, try not to take it to heart. If you do not take comments personally, you will have a greater ability to exhibit conscious choices and responses. If you can limit feeling personally attacked by others, you may find it easier to observe the dynamics of relationships around you (both friends and family).

It’s surprising how much you can learn by simply observing those around you.

You may identify individuals who are quick to attack and criticize, seek attention and even avoid conflicts. Additionally, showing compassion to those closest to you can greatly reduce negative interactions with others. Showing compassion and even empathy to friends and family experiencing a difficult time of year is likely to reduce unnecessary conflict during holiday get-togethers.

So remember, as the year draws closer to an end, try to prevent holiday blues associated with poor interactions of those closest to you. When holiday cheer is lacking because relationships have become more challenging, take a moment and reflect on these helpful reminders. If your relationships flourish during these holidays, it is likely your mental health will as well. Be prepared to use your positive coping strategies and be mindful of your own responses around others. Positive relationships and interactions with others begins with you.

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