3 Steps to Avoid Holiday Drama!

The holiday season is here!

Unfortunately, for lots of people, family gatherings are just as much about tension, anger, and pointless arguments as they are about celebration.

When you’re dealing with family, you’ve got so much history! That makes it easy to feel triggered by something that wouldn’t bother you much at all, coming from a stranger. We often end up frustrated with ourselves for getting involved and upset.

So why is it so easy to get pulled into arguments

we later regret?!?

When we experience anger, alarm, or a potential threat, our nervous system goes into the stress-induced, sympathetic state (often called “fight or flight”). When our central nervous system shifts into this state, it’s trying to prepare us to defend ourselves against a perceived risk.

It pumps our body full of adrenalin and other stress hormones, while shutting down systems that aren’t essential to our immediate survival.

We’re ready for aggression, not diplomacy.

And the problem is, this ancient part of our brain doesn’t know if we’re being chased by a predator or baited by a drunk uncle.

So, just in time for the holidays, I’d like to offer these three steps to stay calm and out of the drama this holiday season:

Take a breath.

Take a step.

Take a Break.

One - Take a Breath:

Even just one calm, deep breath can do wonders when faced with a triggering situation. Deep breathing helps your nervous system shift from the sympathetic, “Fight or Flight,” state, back into the more relaxed parasympathetic state, which takes over when you’re feeling safe and secure.

When you’re not geared up for a fight, your body has the energy and attention needed to do things like healing, digesting, and replenishing your immune system.

But this more relaxed state also helps you maintain a calmer, more logical, and thoughtful perspective in stressful situations--like when someone at your holiday gathering brings up a super controversial political or family issue that will likely start trouble.

Taking a few deep breaths is one of the quickest and easiest ways to bring yourself back into this more balanced, parasympathetic, state of mind and body. It helps you to respond with diplomacy and logic instead of reacting in anger and joining the fractious fray.

Two - Take a Step:

Once you’ve taken a nice deep breath or two, and are feeling more balanced and calm, it’s time to take a step back from the strong emotions you might be feeling.

It’s time to get philosophical.

This step back will be different depending on the situation. If it’s an old and pathological family pattern coming up for the hundredth time, stepping back could mean choosing not to play your role in the drama this time. Reminding yourself that you’re an adult now and no longer dependent on pleasing your family. Keeping in mind that you don’t need to explain or justify yourself to anyone.

It also works if the drama-bait at your holiday gathering is political.

When the argument is pointless, illogical, and emotion-based, there’s absolutely no reason to let yourself get pulled into it.

It won’t help you save the world; it will only stress you out and mess up your digestion.

Either way, remember this: If someone frequently attempts to ensnare you in their drama, it’s their issue, not yours. You don’t have to play along!

Three – Take a Break

If someone is trying to draw you in, and won’t respect the fact that you don’t want to engage, remove yourself from the situation. Go outside or to another room for some deep breathing. Go help out in the kitchen. Go home. Whatever works.

Remove yourself from the negative situation until you feel calmer.

And go easy on yourself--Even if you do end up losing your temper or shutting down over some issue you thought you’d dealt with and overcome years ago! Family dynamics are complex and powerful and it's totally normal to get pulled into the drama sometimes. Remember, you’re doing the best you can!

My mission is to help each highly sensitive and empathic person wake up to their power, brilliance, and authentic path. Please get in touch if you have any questions, stories, or want to schedule a one-on-one session to explore your soul's purpose.

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