The holidays are upon us and that means family gatherings. Unfortunately these reunions can often be a bit rockier than Norman Rockwell depicted. According to the American Psychological Association stress and fatigue are the main culprits for negative feelings around this time of year. Psychotherapist and clinical social worker, Lisa Ferentz, suggests avoiding emotionally straining situations all together. She says that sometimes you need to give yourself permission to avoid painful family interactions.
If a gathering is unavoidable or if you feel compelled to visit family or friends who could be a source of conflict, bring a friend along as a buffer. Limit interaction time and do not discuss controversial topics that could lead to confrontation. Ferentz warns against engaging in self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse or over eating as a means to deal with stress. Exercise and meditation are positive alternatives for stress relief.
Volunteering can also be a helpful way to reduce stress allowing you to step outside of yourself and your own emotions. When you do things for others it can provide a new perspective about life.