Your Stress-Free Holiday Starts Here
Stop "relative" anxiety. Does just booking a plane ticket for your holiday visit with the family put your teeth on edge? The basic rule of dealing with relatives is to know that "you're not going to get everything resolved over the holidays, because there is too much going on," says Joy Browne, PhD, a nationally syndicated radio psychologist. So when Uncle Charlie picks a fight, "understand that the only behavior you can control is your own," explains Browne. Do your best to ignore it and be cheerful. You can choose not to swallow the bait.
Practice the perfect comeback. Five minutes into the festivities, your mother starts in on your clothes, your hair, your weight. To maintain your composure if a loved one really aggravates you, "be curious, not furious," Browne says. "Instead of responding with, 'I can't believe you said that,' say, 'I'm a little uncertain about your meaning. Can you give me some clarity?'" If they have to explain their insult, it takes all the explosiveness out of picking on you -- and it makes them look petty for criticizing you in the first place.
Have a healthy sense of humor. Browne remembers one family gathering at which her parents started bickering. "I said, 'You know what? It cost me $800 to come home, and I'm here for two days, which means it's costing me $4.86 a minute, and I'm simply not willing to hear people bicker for $4.86 a minute.'" Everyone burst out laughing, and harmony was quickly restored.
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