So many movies are made about family conflict during holidays. That’s because most of us don’t live in a Norman Rockwell picture perfect family.  Pile on extra holiday preparations, events, loss of sleep and the strain on finances and you’ve got a recipe for old and new conflicts to emerge.

Here are some great tips from our clinical professionals to keep your holiday from resembling National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Katie Chancler

If problems always arise at the holiday, it is OK not to go to family functions.  It also is a good idea to have a sign to family that you need to leave if things get out of hand.

 William Yeager

Work around the people who cause problems, and don’t guilt kids.

We have a better time visiting after and between holidays because there is less to stress about.

Maura Pollak

I urge everyone to plan ahead.

I help people plan an escape strategy, which may involve washing the dishes, helping in the kitchen, corralling the kids and playing a game with them, taking a walk or even sitting in the car for a break.

I tell people to identify the trouble spots. Do people ask awkward questions?  Is the smell of alcohol or being around drinking a trigger? Practicing out loud how to respond to intrusive questions helps.  It is important to practice out loud because the response will comes out much smoother in real life.

Shannon Dawson

Shannon uses and shares these rules for conflict:

Parties to a conflict should enter a discussion with the goal of finding solutions and improving relationships. If possible, identify a hope keeper toward that goal.

Basic rules include:

  • State your “gripes” in an emotionally intelligent and socially responsible manner. Suggest some alternatives and be prepared to listen and compromise
  • Reach a solution. You cannot ignore conflict! If something is important enough to one member of the family or marriage, it is worth addressing.
  • State your “gripe” in the form of a request, not a demand. Make it a positive request.
  • Discuss one thing at a time.
  • It is your duty to get the facts and not assume.
  • If opinions differ, compromise is the only solution.
  • Do not try to tell others what they are thinking or why they are doing something.
  • Avoid playing archaeologist and digging up the past.  Only address the current conflict.
  • State your gripe, and then let the other person answer. Actively listen and look for common ground.
  • If your opponent states a point, you must respond to it before you can make a new one.  Answer questions directly.
  • Emotional intelligence is critical. No name calling is allowed. The point is to solve the conflict, not escalate it.
  • Emotional blackmail also is not allowed.  Example, “if you really love me, you would ….”
  • You may address problems with behavior but not with states of being.
  • Spend more time on the solution than the problem.  Agree to leave with a plan for change.

Lynn Yeager

Lynn says gratitude is good for your health and your attitude.

It’s the season of gratitude. Giving thanks is good for your health because it helps you focus on what you do have, not on what you don’t. This is especially important during a time when we might have a heightened sense of lacking money, family and friends, or energy, especially if we are comparing ourselves to others (another tip: don’t compare!).

Practicing gratitude is helpful throughout the year, but may be especially good for you when the going is a little rocky. So, start counting the things you’re grateful for right now in this moment.

And, finally:

  • Be realistic about what you can do with the time and finances available to you.
  • Keep a healthy schedule for exercise, food and sleep despite the holiday hustle and bustle.

We are here to help. We are available during the holiday season and year-round . Call for an appointment on Monday through Friday at our Tulsa office, 918.492.2554, or our Sand Springs office, 918.245.5565.

Our Tulsa and Sand Springs offices will close Christmas Day and New Year’s Day only.

The CALM Center is available around the clock and on all holidays, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, for children ages 10-17 in crisis by calling 918.394.2256.

Everyone at Counseling & Recovery Services wishes you and your loved ones peace and good will during this month of celebrations.