How To Turn Down Holiday Tension

By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen
Tribune News Service.

Does your family tension rise during the holiday season? You know how this goes. Everything from pressure-filled holiday events to overspending can cause quarreling.

And let’s not overlook Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which makes many individuals feel very depressed because of lack of exposure to sunlight.

A friend of ours, who is severely affected by mood swings, told us he feels more depressed in the winter months. “I tend to pick fights with my wife and kids,” he confessed to us. “And I can’t seem to help it.”

Cooling tension with co-workers and family members starts with awareness. Just knowing that stress escalates for many during the holidays helps you stay proactive to avoid acting badly.

It pays to have a lot of patience with yourself, and use humor to deflect tension when someone makes an ugly scene in traffic, for example. Tell yourself, “I’ll give three people a pass to act stupid every single day, before I fantasize I’m snatching them bald.”

Also, indulge in everything that’s stress relieving (sleeping in late when you can, watching old movies) to build up a tolerance for idiotic behavior from others.

“I go crazy during December and early January because I feel my financial pressures mounting and my housework going downhill,” says a woman we’ll call Priscilla. “I am very obsessive-compulsive, and it irks me that I can’t control things.”

Another friend of ours, whom we’ll call Randy, says he felt okay about the holidays until the other day. “My car is falling apart, and my neighbor came over bragging that he’d bought a new SUV!”

These tips can help when your anxiety starts to grow:

Stop comparing yourself to others. Sure, some people have their homes perfectly organized and all shopping done in October. But you were busy with other things. Make up your mind to feel comfortable moving along in your own way, regardless of how imperfect it is.

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