GREENSBORO, N.C. — The holidays are coming. And nothing seems to cause more anxiety than families. With families, there can be deep-seated unresolved and painful issues and memories of the past. When families have separated during the year, they can manage the situations more easily. But, when the family gets together, it's an instant reminder of problematic situations. The reunion can start ok, but with time, someone says something, or a memory is triggered, and negative feelings can resurface.
A great way to prepare to see your family to help avoid a problem is to think about specific activities or situations that seem to trigger you and your family. For example, do issues start when people start drinking cocktails before dinner or maybe during dinner? If you figure out the situations, then you figure out ways to minimize problems. For example, if your aunt tends to ask personal questions you don't want to answer, don't put yourself in a position where you can't escape. So, maybe don't sit beside her at dinner.
Here are a few tips for handling the stress of visiting family. Set realistic expectations for your visit. If you and a family member haven't worked things out, then it's likely that someone's emotions might trigger. Have relaxation techniques ready to help you stay cool under pressure. Remember that you can tactfully speak up for yourself. You don't have to participate in a conversation if it doesn't feel good. And you can walk away.
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