Tips to Avoid Family Stress
With the festive season fast approaching, many people are looking forward to spending time with their families. For others however, family time can be difficult and stressful. Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, any family gathering can cause friction. Follow my tips to have a peaceful, restful gathering, every time!
Clear the air
Creating positive harmonious family relationships is not always easy. Fifty years ago families stayed in regular close contact for life. People generally partnered for life and, even when their children grew up and started their own families, they usually lived nearby, so there was a sense of stability and families were in regular communication.
It is when communication breaks down that problems often begin. Disagreements and family friction can usually be resolved by sitting down, airing feelings and listening. Not always, but more often than not, a good old heart-to-heart can do the trick. Try to do this before the family gathering, so that the air is clear before you start.
The holiday season can be extremely busy, but you must ensure that you still find time for your exercise or meditation routine. You are likely to be stressed, (especially if you are dealing with family friction) and making time to be at peace with yourself is a great step to help you feel balanced and happy.
Many good family traditions have been eroded in our fast paced modern life. Families don’t always spend meal times together, which were once a time for communication. There was always a solid logic behind these traditions. Many have been lost and forgotten and replaced by the need for constant entertainment and stimulation. The Danish concept of ‘hygge’ is very popular at the moment and is a great one to embrace. Hygge is about cosiness, comfort and simplicity.
Try to dedicate a few hours of the day to hygge, playing traditional games, using proper cups and saucers, lighting a fire or some candles, reading stories, or telling jokes. Avoid electronic gadgets and turn televisions and mobile phones off for a while, and enjoy being present and connected to the real world instead of the virtual one for a while.
If you are the host for the gathering, don’t get frustrated that people aren’t helping you; ask for help before you start to feel cross! Be specific with what you need and people will find it easy to assist. If you are a guest, offer to fetch drinks for people, help serve food, clear away plates etc. Chores are much more fun when everyone chips in.
There is often a family member that frequently offers unsolicited advice, which can vary from your relationship status to your hairstyle! This can be immensely frustrating. If a family member is known for offering their words of wisdom, an easy way to keep the peace is to say, ‘thanks, I’ll think about it.’ This stops things escalating into a disagreement in a calm, polite way.
Often people say things in the wrong way, which can sound aggressive or offensive. Try not to jump to conclusions as this will exacerbate the situation. You can ask them to explain what they mean more clearly, but avoid friction if you can.
Sometimes the path of least resistance is the best one. It takes two people to have a fight and turning the other cheek is often the best response. I am not suggesting you become submissive, but if there is conflict and dispute, try to rise above it. Act with honesty and integrity even if the other person does not. There is a real strength in acting that way when faced with hostility. In the end, you will feel better for not lowering yourself to the level of others.
If all else fails and you feel yourself getting frustrated, try to get out of the house for a while. Go for a run, fly a kite, build a snowman; do anything that involves being active and outside. Exercise and fresh air are proven stress relievers, and a chilly winter walk will blow away any tension.
Harmonious relationships technique
Often, a family gathering will mean that you have to socialise with someone that you don’t get along with. If someone is being difficult, you don’t have to lower yourself to the same behaviour. If you are in a situation where you are not on speaking terms with someone, use the harmonious relationships technique below with them in mind. Even if this feels difficult to do, give it a go for the sake of your family.
• Go to a quiet room where there are no distractions. Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breathing. Begin breathing slowly and deeply until you feel relaxed and centred.
• Become aware of your heart and imagine your heart is filled with pure white light. A white light that resonates with unconditional love, the kind of love a mother feels for her child. Feel this white light of love growing in your heart. Imagine the white light expanding out from your heart so that it begins to fill your whole body. Feel a strong sense of love and compassion for all things.
• Imagine the white light expanding, filling your entire body and spreading out into your aura and beyond. This spark of light has grown so strong that it now projects out and away from you in every direction. Make this deep feeling of love and compassion in your heart grow stronger and stronger and imagine that the white light grows ever brighter as it travels further.
• Visualise your white light of unconditional love reaching out and embracing others. It can be to specific people or general. Feel a deep compassion for their struggles and troubles, seeing any faults and weaknesses as manifestations of difficulties in their life. Connect with a powerful feeling of love and compassion while you are in this deeply relaxed state.
• At this point, you can also use affirmations to compound this feeling of love and compassion. State your affirmations as a reality now in the present tense. Here are some examples, but please adapt and add your own to suit your needs:
I have positive relationships with people
I am compassionate and understanding
I give and receive love easily
• When you state your affirmations, draw the words inside you and believe they are a reality. Put real positive feeling into each phrase and totally believe in what you are affirming. The more you believe in the phrases, the stronger they will become. As always, you will need to practise the technique a few times and repeat the affirmations regularly to get the best results.
• When you are ready to finish, allow you mind to clear and count slowly upwards from one to ten, and open your eyes and come back to full waking consciousness.
Wishing you a happy, harmonious festive season.