Keeping Your Cool During Thanksgiving


Are you one of those people who fly off the handle around the holidays? Can you feel your nerves exploding this time of year? Before you slug somebody, breathe deeply. Also, remember, there are things you can do to feel better and to keep the peace.

It's common to get stressed out at the holiday season. "It's overwhelming. There are too many things to do; not enough time to do them in, concerns about making things just right and a need to be a perfectionist," according to Donna Steckal, Ph.D., a Payson psychologist.

"Avoid planning or problem solving when overwhelmed; take a walk, breathe deeply, take a break," she said.

Maybe you're one of those people who try to do everything yourself. You don't ask for help. This can be bad. "Recognize when you need help and make specific doable requests to get the support that you need. Make tasks manageable and do a little at a time. Don't make demands on yourself or on others," she said.

It seems during the holidays we all have to spend time with someone we're not comfortable around. Maybe a face just popped into your mind. What should you do? "When there is conflict, look for solutions that meet the needs of

all concerned, so that everyone comes away feeling satisfied; having been heard and respected," she added. This part may be difficult, but Steckal says it is important: "If someone's words seem critical, listen beyond the words without taking them personally, by hearing their feelings and values," said Steckal.

Although there are no statistics available yet to confirm this, Payson Police Commander Don Engler said his department sees an increase in the number of domestic violence calls starting in November. "This time of year through the beginning of the new year is traditionally a very busy time for domestic violence and those sorts of calls," he said. "It's very unfortunate."

Steckal said if you have a history with a family member, or someone else, where there are unresolved hurts, think before you lash out. "Think of your strengths and keep your focus on what is most important to you. Keep an attitude of gratitude," she said.

If you have family coming to visit, write up a list of things to do and places to visit while they are here, so no one gets bored. "Tell your family what excites you about the places you want to explore and ask them if they'd be willing to share your excitement and go exploring with you," said Steckal.

Pull out board games and relearn how to play them, if you must. Rent a couple of good comedies.

"Remember what makes life meaningful and beautiful for you every day," she added.

Tips for keeping the peace

  • Avoid planning when overwhelmed -- take a break when overloaded
  • Notice body cues and H.A.L.T. (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) and stop and take care of yourself
  • Make tasks manageable
  • Make a list of suggested things to do or places to visit
  • When there's a conflict, look for a positive solution without escalating the situation
  • Use inspirational readings to start and end your day

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