Smiling faces surround the dinner table; happy families beam at each other as they decorate the Christmas tree.
We've all seen the soft-focused commercials that show families enjoying the holiday season together in peace and harmony. But, if your family gatherings aren’t that way at all you're not alone.
For many of us, these lovely images of sharing holiday bliss with the entire family are more fantasy than reality.
Sometimes sharing close quarters with your parents or adult siblings for a weekend visit can rekindle some of the family conflicts and emotions you thought were long behind you. But, there are ways to keep a smile on your face and the “fa-la-la-la-la” in your heart.
Here are some tips from Prisma Health-Midlands Adolescent Recovery Center to help you enjoy your family gatherings.
Reevaluate your traditions. Are you doing something just because it's what you've always done, or does it add real meaning to your holiday? Consider starting new traditions that remove some of the burden that has been shouldered by a single person.
· Use common sense and avoid controversial topics like politics, religion and money.
· Find a place where you can get away and take a breather from time to time. Offer to make a trip to the grocery store for more eggs or sugar. Go alone if you need a little break.
· Create a diversion. Whether it's a board game, movie or music, try to bring some entertainment to the festivities.
· Give yourself permission to limit time spent with family members if that will ease your stress.
· Remember the holidays aren't the time to resolve all the family's conflicts and irritations. You won't solve 20 years of family issues over dinner, so don't confront those age-old issues.
· Change the scenery. Get outdoors. Take a walk together with a loved one. Exercise and fresh air are great stress relievers.
For more information about Prisma Health-Midland Adolescent Recovery Center, call 803-296-8765.