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Handling the stress of family during the holidays

Psychology expert Blanca Cobb shares a few tips for handling stress while visiting family for the holidays.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Thanksgiving is next week. Holidays are a great time to see family, but they can also bring anxiety. Certain family members have a way of getting to us. Here are a few common situations and suggestions for dealing with them.

Let's start with how to deal with talks about politics, which has taken center stage recently. 

How do you handle political discussions? Remember that you don't have to participate in conversations you don't want to. This includes political talks, particularly if your family has a strong political leaning and trying to change your mind. 

Clear boundaries about what you will and won't talk about being healthy. If someone asks a question or makes a potshot, remember that you keep your cool and say, Hey, I won't talk about politics, but I'll talk about …." If someone pushes you and says, "Why won't you talk about politics? Can't you back up what you believe?" See-through what they're doing. They're trying to goad you into talking. Don't take the bait. Instead, politely say something, "You're not respecting my request. I don't want to talk about politics." 

If you defend your position, you're giving them ammunition to come back at you. Remember, it isn't about having the last word. It's about being respected.

RELATED: Handling the stress of visiting family

What about the family member who asks questions about your love life, like, "When are you getting married? Or, "When are you having kids?" One of the best answers to intrusive questions is, "Why do you want to know?" 

This response is effective because it puts the question right back on them. What are they going to say, "I'm being nosy, and I want to know." "No reason in particular." "Because I want to make fun of you." It makes them reflect on why they want to know and whether they must know.

What if someone's super boring? How can you look interested in the conversation?

RELATED: Blanca Cobb shares the importance of being kind to yourself

You can use body language hacks to show interest when talking to someone who's super boring. When you're listening, give a head nod periodically. Smile on occasion. Also, when looking at them, think about something that you like about them because this helps you show interest.

Share your thoughts on my Facebook page: Blanca Cobb – Body Language Expert. Write a message on my timeline, and I'll get back to you. While you're on my page, I'd appreciate it if you give my page a "like."

RELATED: How to protect your mental health at work

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