6 tips to enjoy a holiday feast with those relatives you have to see at least once a year
Debbie Mandel is a stress management specialist, mind/body lecturer, and the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman’s 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life , and the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City. Debbie shares her top 6 tips for deflecting tense encounters at your next holiday gathering. Edit for another minutes
For many of us, the approaching holidays are accompanied by the onset of free-floating anxiety. Family and friends who normally prefer not to see each other, let alone sit around the dinner table, come together under the guise of good cheer–and inevitably, buttons get pushed. It’s stressful.
Holiday stress management means taking preventative measures. Here are some strategies I recommend.
- Exercise beforehand to alleviate your anxiety and release feel-good chemistry
Take a walk or lift weights to lift your spirit. You will be mellower as well as more likely to respond rather than react to an insult or rude question. Remember, a good mood is contagious!
- Come prepared with quips to disarm even the most toxic barb slinger
Humor is often a very effective response to rude queries, so rehearse a few jokes or anecdotes to recite. “I prefer being out of work, it lets me catch up on my spirituality.” “The few pounds I put on make me look curvaceous.”
- Bring a popular magazine or photos for show and tell
The right props can be a be a very effective distraction when you need to redirect a conversation that has taken a venomous turn.
- Turn the conversation around to the button-pusher as soon as you greet.
You will be deemed a good conversationalist when you let the narcissist do all the talking.
- Liberally compliment the button pusher to set a positive and affirming tone.
You will be described as perceptive and intuitive.
- Choose your battles
Family and friends carry old baggage that often locks them into playing a role. You might be 52, but to them you are still the little sister. Yes, it’s irritating, but for your own peace of mind, you can choose to see it as the flip side to all the wonderful history you share.