The holiday season brings promises of happy family gatherings, reunions with friends, and good cheer. But for many people, the stress of holidays can be overwhelming.
Pressure from social media, unresolved family tensions, and a cultural acceptance of indulgence, especially around alcohol, can combine to make the holidays very challenging.
Dr. Harshal Kirane, a leading expert on family communication and stress management at Wellbridge/Northwell Health, offers four simple, realistic strategies for dealing with these situations, both as an individual and a family.
· Expecting a happy holiday can put undue pressure on those with fragile family relationships. Avoid using social media as a benchmark for your own expectations or experiences.
· If you or your family are going through a tough time, establish boundaries. If these can’t be respected, it is best to avoid the situation and go where your needs can be met.
· Families can actively engage through community and volunteer activities. Instead of drinking while watching football, throw a foam ball. Consider community events like a 3k walk to get moving and create a space for connection. Volunteering together can bond relationships around shared values and beliefs, releasing tension that can arise from past disputes.
· Effective communication is key to a positive family dynamic. When you can’t use your own words to open lines of positive communication, consider shared creative outlets like music as a way to connect.
About the Author:
Dr. Harshal Kirane is one of the nation’s leading experts in interfamily communication, stress management, and addiction care. He is the Medical Director for Northwell Health’s Wellbridge Addiction Care and Research and has worked with hundreds of families to improve their dynamic and communication, both with and without the presence of addiction.
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