Halloween has passed this week which means the Holiday Season is coming up fast and for many people. Instead of the Holidays being a happy time for many people it’s a very stressful time that they wish they could avoid. The Holidays can bring up family issues that have never been resolved and these issues can make everyone uncomfortable. These issues are the elephant in the living room that no one discusses. Another issue is that everyone is trying so hard to make the day prefect that it becomes a stressful day and no one enjoys the day.
Thanksgiving is coming up first so let’s deal with that day.
Thanksgiving dinner with multiple family members can create chaos and stress. Having a Thanksgiving plan can reduce anxiety, decrease the likelihood of arguments and increase the likelihood that everyone has a happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving that they were expecting.
Lori Lite who writes about stress uses the acronym G-R-A-T-E-F-U-L as her Thanksgiving stress guide. It helps her and others get through the day in a peaceful manner. Each letter reminds you of something to do or a way to view the day so you do not get upset.
So here is how to use Gratitude as your Thanksgiving Stress Reliever.
G- Gratitude is the opposite of stress. It is difficult to feel stressed out when we are feeling gratitude.
R- Relax your expectations and let the day unfold. You might be surprised by the outcome.
A- Acceptance is the opposite of judgment. If we accept our family member for who they are and what they are capable of we can relax and enjoy ourselves.
T- Teens can be a part of Thanksgiving. Ask them what they would like to bring to the table. Let them bring it.
E- Empower children and let them help with age appropriate assignments. Putting the nuts out or making the centerpiece. Let them do it their way…not your way.
F– Focus on family for this day. Put all work and worries on the shelf
U– Unplug the electronics for dinner so that everyone can be fully present.
L- Love is often overlooked when we are busy. Cook with love… Speak with love… Show your love and gratitude for your family on this Thanksgiving Day.
Since the day can be stressful, it can also lead to anger and arguments. Another acronym you can use to help with stress and anger is H-A-L-T. Here is what Halt stands for:
H – Hunger, if someone feels hungry they are more likely to become stressed or angry.
A – Anger, if someone is already angry, they can easily become stressed or have their anger increased by some small event because they are already agitated.
L – Lonely, if someone is feeling ignored or left out of the group, this lonely feeling can turn into anger or stress.
T – Tired, if someone is tired, their defenses are down and they can become agitated or angry very easily.
If you remember HALT and monitor yourself for these feelings or if you notice these feelings in someone else, you can try to do something for yourself or someone else to change the situation creating a more relaxed feeling and hopefully avoiding an angry incident.
This might seem very simple and obvious. Often the best solutions are obvious and rather simple. Also you may want to practice using these acronyms in your daily life. It may seem simple, however it may be harder than you think because you are accustomed to doing things and viewing life in a certain way. This idea may challenge you to reassess how you approach life in general. Therefore, these acronyms may be helpful in your daily life.
Many of us are not use to looking at our lives in terms of what we have to be grateful for. Also many of us have a hard time relaxing and not worrying about work or other things occurring in our lives. I have found that just being in the moment is difficult for most people. Most of us believe we always have to be doing something. This can create stress and disappointment because we miss important family time. Finally, since we feel we must always be doing something, disconnecting from cellphones and other electronics can be very difficult for many people. However, think about it? How can you have fun and enjoy the day with your family, if your mind is not fully present? You can’t. Furthermore, this can create tension for others because they feel ignored and for you because you feel they don’t respect how important what you are doing at the moment is to you. As a result, you have stress which can turn into an argument and everyone is upset. A day we planed as a happy day can become a day of anger and disappointment easily.
Therefore, in order to avoid this possibility try using the acronyms GRATEFUL and HALT following the guidelines for the day. What do you have to lose?
Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in working with children, teenagers, their families, trauma victims including first responders. He has over 25 years experience. For more information about his work or private practice visit his websites at www.rcs-ca.com, www.RubinoCounseling.com or visit his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/drrubino3.