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Try These Three Tips for Taming Thanksgiving Tension

Are you ready for the biggest family holiday season of the year? Thanksgiving is coming on the late side this year, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared well in advance! Many people seek couples therapy in Highlands Ranch right before the holiday season, asking their couples counselor questions such as “how can I deal with my mother in law?” “what is an appropriate way to set limits with the grandkids?” or even “how can I escape family Thanksgiving?” If you find yourself wondering these sorts of things, don’t worry—you can tame this Thanksgiving season with a few great strategies . Here are three top tips from your psychologist!

  1. Make plans, but leave them “loose.” One of the biggest challenges during the holiday season is what to do with everyone! Are you a family that loves to spend days in the kitchen preparing food? What about those who aren’t such great cooks? Are you dreading the family football game, where you will inevitably fall on your face? Having activities that suit everyone, or at least a few options, can reduce tension and make everyone more at ease. Try having at least two activities ready at any time, but keep things casual. Leave plenty of room to be flexible and have fun!
  2. Work through your limits and set boundaries accordingly. Boundaries and limits are for you, to make sure you have a good time. When you find yourself wondering “how can I stop this person from making me feel _________” and solving that problem, you have likely set a boundary. This may be for your own health (“sorry mom, I’m only having one slice of pie this year so I don’t feel sick later”) or to protect your loved ones (“sorry nephew, but my kids aren’t allowed to play inside of the oven because I don’t want them to burn up”), but no matter what, you must value your reason and make it clear to the other party why you need it. Don’t feel bad to ask for what you need! When you explain your boundaries to others in this way, they are more likely to be respected. For more help with boundaries, consider talking through challenging situations with your animal assisted therapist in Highlands Ranch, or check out a longer article on setting holiday boundaries.
  3. Find at least one good thing for every bad thing you notice. This is a great perspective-changing exercise, and can even be a fun family game if your family is full of “negative Nancys.” Instead of noticing that the turkey legs burnt and fell off, comment on the deliciously browned and crackly skin. Don’t linger on the watery cranberries, complement the host on the attractive decorations. When your 2-year-old niece launches into a full-out meltdown that makes your ears ring, thank your teens for not fighting with each other this year. This doesn’t mean that unpleasant things aren’t happening, but focusing your attention on the positive will improve your mood and that of others!

If these steps are not enough, or if the stress of the holidays is taking a toll on your marriage, consider working briefly with a couples counselor in Highlands Ranch. This Thanksgiving, enjoy a warm, friendly holiday and share this with others!

 

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