By: Jackie Waters
Managing Stress During Family Events
Photo courtesy of Pixabay by Tabeajaichhalt
Family events can be a wonderful time of reflection, gratitude, and celebration with loved ones. But they can also be a stressful time for so many of us, especially if there are tensions among family members, pandemonium from little ones running every which way, or pressures to overindulge in food and drink. Left unchecked, stress can develop into depression or anxiety, or can manifest as high blood pressure or a weakened immune system.
Also, for those who’ve recently received treatment for an addiction or mental health disorder, family events can be quite stressful. The good news is that there are several practices you can incorporate into your daily life to reduce stress.
Yoga and Meditation
Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, and is a time-tested way to stretch the body, encourage restorative movement, boost health, and even reduce stress and negative emotions. Meditation reduces anxious thoughts, calms the mind and helps you find mental and emotional balance. Yoga and meditation can be effective stress-reducers whether practiced together or on their own. Feel like you’re in a time crunch while spending time with your relatives? The good news is that you don’t have to devote much time to yoga or meditation to see real results. As little as ten minutes of yoga per day can help relieve stress and leave you feeling revitalized. Those ten minutes could be the best minutes of your day!
Schedule Time for Yourself
Family time can seem so overwhelming with making sure you spend ample time with everyone, helping finalize details for the wedding or reunion party you’ve gathered for, and avoiding conflict as much as possible, that it can feel like you don’t have any time to unwind.
For many of us, the thought of taking time to ourselves during a family event can seem daunting, yet it is often exactly what we need the most during this often hectic time. To get in the habit of prioritizing self-care, experts recommend actually scheduling time for yourself each day. This should be YOU time, so the activity you do during this time is completely up to you. Pencil it in on the calendar or, better yet, set a reminder to alert you on your smartphone. Start small, even if it is just five minutes per day. As you get more comfortable with your self-care routine, you can always increase the amount of time later.
Sometimes our stress levels simply result from unrealistic expectations. If you’ve been beating yourself up because your cousin’s wedding was far more elaborate than yours, or that your family gatherings never go perfectly according to plan, it may be time to reassess.
Despite what the movies might tell us, there’s no such thing as a “perfect” family or a 100% “stress-free” gathering. It’s okay to change family traditions or to add new rituals over the years as your family continues to grow and change. Be flexible. Roll with the punches. Set aside your differences. And remember – there’s a good chance those around you are feeling the stress, too. Compassion and empathy are two very important qualities when dealing with stressful situations any time of the year.
Even if you follow these guidelines perfectly, chances are high that you might still experience some level of stress when you’re at a family function. If so, remember that it’s healthy to ask for help if you need it. Turn to a relative, a trusted friend, or even a therapist if you need support from others. There’s a very good possibility they’ll have some options to help you.
A completely stress-free reunion might not be realistic for every family event, but with the right steps for self-care, we really can reduce stress and make time with our relatives much more enjoyable. You just might find yourself counting down until the next one!
Editor’s note: The opinion expressed in this writing is solely of the author and does not reflect in any way of BCNH. Jackie can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org