Complicated family dynamics during the holidays can often bring up strong emotions, which can be difficult to cope with when experiencing the added stress and pressure that often accompanies the holidays. If you find yourself having a strong emotional reaction when you are with your family, remind yourself that your feelings are valid. You are allowed to feel upset or angry. However, keep in mind that reacting or responding when we are very upset or emotionally dysregulated can often lead to escalation and spark arguments.
If you notice that you are feeling emotionally dysregulated, we encourage you to acknowledge your feelings and take steps to calm down before responding or reacting to a family member. A great way to cope with a strong emotional reaction or feelings of stress and anxiety brought on by the holidays is to practice mindfulness. This may look like taking some deep, calming breaths, repeating a calming mantra, excusing yourself from a situation, counting to ten, or a variety of other calming techniques. By using mindfulness strategies to calm down and regulate your emotions, you will be able to respond to stressful, upsetting, or anxiety-provoking situations in a kinder, more effective manner. Instead of reacting and potentially escalating a situation, you will be able to control your response and know that you did your best to handle a challenging family situation respectfully and graciously.