The Smart Way To Handle Holiday Family Fights

by Simona Terron

The holidays are a good time to catch up with family members, friends and neighbors, but they could also be a hotbed of arguments and chaos. While you don’t want to get involved, you sometimes have to play mediator. So, how do you sidestep the emotional landmines? Read on for simple ways to melt the tension and focus on the fun.

1. Rise Above It
Financial wellness expert and author Kate Northrup says that you have to release the seductive idea that you can change another person. She advocates surrendering to the other person’s journey and to let them be. Doing this may not be as easy as it sounds, but it sure pays off to remember that these are your loved ones, even if they may not realize the impact of their actions.

2. Refrain From Reacting
Avoid getting carried away by gossip, and put a stop to the argument. If left unchecked, it can only lead to flaring tempers. Know when to ignore hurtful comments. As for the person who made those comments, don’t give them the satisfaction of seeing you hurt or angry. Drown them in politeness, until they get the message.

3. Try Tough Love
If ignoring and politeness don’t work, try giving a light warning. Drop a hint that they won’t be invited to the next family gathering if they keep up their bad behavior. That should work like a charm. Controlling the alcohol flow is another tip to prevent flare-ups.

4. Keep Moving
If you feel like a sitting duck during a fight, move away from the scene. If it’s meal time, pop into the kitchen for refills, or some more wine. If it’s after dinner, you can go check on the kids. A bathroom visit can also be a good way to get some space between you and the person annoying you. Don’t forget to stay active in general, since exercise can be a great mood enhancer.

5. Relax When You Can
With so much going on, the holidays can be stressful. So take time out for yourself when you can and enjoy the festivities, catch theater performances or go to the movies. A DIY home spa can ease the physical tension from tired feet. Aromatherapy can be a cheap, quick and efficient way to relieve stress and resentment.

6. Spread The Love
The holidays are all about togetherness and happiness, so when these two things are in danger, it’s time to spread love. Sincere compliments can diffuse the tension and make people feel appreciated, decreasing the likelihood of a lash-out. Skip playing board games or choosing what TV show to watch—situations that could lead to conflict. Instead, spend time sharing stories of the year that was, or swap happy childhood memories. If all else fails, a round of warm hugs can do wonders.

Image: Shutterstock

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