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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Holiday Season Stress with Family and Without Alcohol

The benefit of sharing a stressful experience with someone adds an extra dimension to the relationship.

The benefit of sharing a stressful experience with someone adds an extra dimension to the relationship.

We are all anticipating the holidays as they quickly approach. Maybe it’s not for all the same reasons, good or bad, but we all look forward to the holiday season.

Although some of us may know how to stay neutral and keep the peace while we talk politics at the “adult table,” not all of us can. Now that we are a year into the Trump presidency, we face the opportunity to reunite with family members who sit on the opposite side of the political spectrum from us. The same people who we have tried to avoid for a year.

Next to school, family reunions might be the most stressful thing for young adults. Somehow, the “magical” tradition of family gatherings over the holidays forces us to come face to face with all of the stress-inducing topics we try to avoid. For those 21 and over in the family, there’s our old friend, alcohol, to help with the stress. However, some of us don’t need alcohol to cope with stress, and for others, alcohol may not even be an option during family gatherings this holiday season.

An article by Sarah A. Benton, a professional mental health counselor, in “Psychology Today,” provided some tips on how exactly to defeat holiday stress without alcohol. Below is a sample from that article. Here’s hoping that one of these suggestions may help you over the holiday season!

1. Practice de-stressing techniques around this time of the year, such as exercise and meditation.

Even something as simple as donning all of your heavy winter gear and going outside for a breath of fresh air does count as exercise.

2. Bring a friend or loved one with you for support.

Just one person can make all the difference. Sometimes it’s fun making awkward “did-they-just-say-what-I-think-they-said” glances across the table at each other. Not to mention, you’ll have an extra story with your friend that you can laugh at together. The benefit of sharing a stressful experience with someone adds an extra dimension to the relationship.

3. Spend time with someone in the family whose presence you enjoy.

So, this goes along with the item above. Perhaps they, too, are someone you haven’t had a chance to see in a while. Use this to your advantage during the event! It’ll give you both the opportunity to catch up.

4. Can’t do number two for some reason? Have someone on standby.

Okay, not necessarily standby, because it’s the holidays and that would be rude, but even having your phone in hand ready to be whipped out to answer texts in a flash is helpful. Perhaps the person you would have considered for number two is at an event of their own that same day. Be careful with this one. Negativity begets negativity—it can go both ways. Not having them at your table means they only get what you dish out to them, out intended. If you can check yourself at this, and spend some text time with your bestie, by all means—do you.

5. Keep an open mind.

Granted, some may have a harder time doing this than others, but at least try, take the holidays as a learning opportunity the likes of which you may not have for the rest of the year. As a writer, I’m always trying to look at things with a fresh perspective. It doesn’t mean you have to become what you learn.