Tips to deal with conflicts at Christmas gatherings

Local News

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Christmas is a wonderful time to spend with loved ones but it also comes with a chance of conflicts at holiday gatherings…

Since Thanksgiving this year, officials at Elliott Counseling Group (ECG) have seen an increasing number of clients who need help with anxiety related to the fear of discussions at family gatherings on holiday.

Wade Stark, a licensed clinical counselor at ECG, has shared with us some tips to avoid conflicts and help people lessen the amount of stress from awkward situations at Christmas gatherings.

Causes of Christmas conflicts

According to Stark, some common causes of Christmas conflicts are:
– Rehashing of past-year arguments.
– Anxiety from meeting new people and having to re-tell stories that can resurface negative emotions and feelings.
– Family members try to tell others how to run their life (how to raise kids, how to prepare for the future, etc.).
– Issues with trying to balance the time spent with both sides of the family, especially when people are in partnership with someone else.

Tips to avoid or healthily cope with Christmas conflicts

– Set realistic expectations before including yourself in a conversation that can lead to conflicts.
– Set your boundaries when talking to other people: Letting people know there is a limit of conversation topics that you’re comfortable with and respectfully refusing to have long conversations with those that you may have arguments with.
– Try to remain positive and have an open mind.
– Being mindful about the usage of substances because they can take a part in increasing the heat of a conflict.
– Have a “getaway” plan: Know when and how you will want to exit a conversation that makes you feel uncomfortable.
– Take time to manage your emotions and reactions so that they will not be impulsive.
– Refuel your normal routine: Holiday season can be disrupted to your daily routine so slowly getting back to your normal and safe environment can help pull you away from the stress that stems from Christmas conflicts.

“When you are in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, remember that you are in control. And if you do not want to go to any of these family interactions because of the fear of conflicts, it is appropriate for you to not attend,” said Stark.

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