Keeping Communication Lines Open over the Holidays
The holiday season is approaching, and while each family celebrates differently, most of us have one thing in common: added stress. While we all love this time of year – feasts, celebrations, gifts, vacations and time with family – the reality is, all the preparations for big meals, shopping for gifts, time spent in airport lines or traffic, and lots of time with lots of family – not to mention the change in routines and schedules – can bring some challenges. Communicating effectively with your family is a great way to ensure for a smoother and happier holiday season. Here are some tips on communication:
- Know your trigger points and plan ahead. Anger and anxiety are obstacles to effective communication. If you know something or someone is likely to set you off, be prepared with coping skills. The fundamental coping skills of exercising and sleeping well before a stressful event can help you manage the event with grace.
- Spend quality time with your spouse every day, even if it’s just five or 10 minutes. Discuss challenges and make sure you’re on the same page.
- Be honest with yourself about what you want to do to celebrate the holidays, not what you feel you should do. Just because your neighbor bakes cookies for everyone doesn’t mean that is something you need to do as well.
- Establish a family ritual that allows your immediate family to spend time together and connect. Simple rituals such as putting up decorations, watching a holiday movie or wrapping presents together can create lifelong memories.
- Listen to all members of your family and keep the lines of communication open. If it feels like chaos in your home, something isn’t working. Take time to figure out a solution – together. Even if some things can’t be changed, it’s important to validate everybody’s feelings. It is worthwhile to spend time listening!
- Model the respect and communication you want to see from others. Be cognizant at all times of your words and actions and how they affect others.
- Be proactive by asking for what you want from others. Don’t wait to be disappointed. Others are much more likely to meet your expectations if you are clear.
Above all, remember, the holidays can be a joyous time. Focus on the positive parts of the season and enjoy the time with friends and family!