Peacefully Navigating Thanksgiving

by Katie Valentino

The holidays are upon us, and regardless of which holidays we celebrate, this time of year brings families together. While this time can be positive as we celebrate with one another, the accompanying stress can have a negative impact on us, both personally and professionally. In fact, family discord is one of the top reasons people seek assistance from their EAP. Because family has a special way of hitting our emotional triggers, I addressed the issue last year during an interview with WGN. You can listen to it here: Peacefully Navigating Family.

Here are a few quick tips:

  • Accept your limitations and be flexible so that you can enjoy the true meaning and spirit of the season. Life changes, which means traditions change. It’s OK for things to be less-than-perfect.
  • Pay attention to your own exhaustion levels and ask for help. If no one is willing to help, set boundaries.
  • Set a budget! When you have a plan, you are less likely to fall for all the holiday gimmicks and ads and to stick within your means. Reducing financial stress at this time can make dealing with difficult family members a little less stressful.
  • Be healthy by planning meals. Make sure you have healthy options so you don’t go for multiple cookies. Consider carrying a granola bar for yourself and kids to avoid meltdowns. It’s easier to deal with people when you’re not “hangry!”
  • Also, some families have traumas that cannot be ignored. Physical, sexual and emotional abuse is the reality for many people. It’s OK for you to protect yourself from being exposed to those who may have caused or facilitated your trauma. While family gatherings may not be the best place to address such issues, you can refuse to participate in such gatherings if they include your abuser.
  • Don’t forget to plan for pets! Pet stress can create human stress. Visiting relatives may be coming with their animals. Plan for this by introducing pets slowly, ideally ahead of time, and research boarding options in your area in case the pets refuse to play nice.

If you are interested in offering a presentation on dealing with holiday stress to your workgroup contact your EAP!

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  • Mark Smith

    Great article!