Relationship Tips for this Holiday Season

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With the holidays just around the corner, many of us are preparing for navigating tricky family relationships. And while I do hope your holidays are filled with joy, peace, and a sense of connection to those you love, I imagine in everyone's holiday there will be moments that highlight the challenges in our relationships. 

Below are a few helpful tips to assist you in navigating this holiday season. 

Be curious. It's remarkable how easily, and frequently, we misunderstand one another. Try adopting a more curious posture this holiday by assuming you don't fully understand what others are saying, asking clarifying questions and giving others the benefit of the doubt. 

Give yourself permission to take care of your needs. Take a nap, go for a walk, or do whatever helps you feel grounded. You will have a greater capacity to interact the way you want to if you make sure you are getting what you need.

Be Strategic. If you know after two days with your extended family that you are going to need a break, then plan your trips accordingly. You could plan to take a break by venturing out into the city by yourself, see friends, or plan a date with your partner. 

Breathe! A lot. And Deeply. Increased stress is to be expected during this season. Deep breathing helps to relax your body and mind, and decrease your stress levels, so that you are your best self in the midst of times that are commonly more stressful. 

Leave shame and negative self-talk at the door. You are not perfect, and your loved ones are not either. When someone acts less than ideal, avoid giving into thoughts that say, “This holiday is ruined!" or "Things will never get better". These thoughts are not true, and they won't help you. 

Remember that we all experience fears and insecurities, and these can be especially strong with those closest to us. Feelings are a beautiful part of how we operate, and they can provide us with a wealth of information. However, if you find yourself frequently overwhelmed by your emotions, it will be useful to talk with a trusted friend or a therapist to sort out what you are experiencing and how to move forward. 

Create a new tradition or keep one going. Traditions help people feel connected to others and to their common history in a way that few other things do. It may be playing a new game, making a festive meal together, or serving at a shelter over the holidays. 

Happy Holidays! May they be (mostly) Merry & Bright!