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Ways to Alleviate the Stress of the Family Holiday Season

Tis the season for bringing families together in one small, cramped, overheated house to enjoy the holidays in peace, love, and intergenerational harmony.  For many, family gatherings can pose the most challenging and stressful times of the year.  From arguments over politics to long standing grudges, holiday family reunions can make some of us dread this season more than a tax audit.

For those who would rather get a root canal than go home for Christmas, we offer ten ways to, not only get through the turmoil in one piece, but also to reduce stress and increase the enjoyment of the holiday season…


1. Take a Deep Breath

The next time we’re met with a room of screaming kids or a drunken relative telling us what’s what, taking a deep, slow breath to reduce stress response.  The key to deep breathing is breathing through the stomach (a.k.a. diaphragmatic breathing).  The deeper the breath the more oxygen enters the lungs and feeds the body systems resulting in a reduction in blood pressure, heart rate, and the urge to wring the necks of the ones we love.

Deep breathing can be done at any time and becomes more effective and efficient the more we practice. Research has confirmed that one deep breath can lower blood pressure and reverse the stress response.  Try taking a deep cleansing breath for about 6 seconds and exhaling for 7 to 8 seconds. This may be all that’s necessary to buffer us from the white noise of a full house.  


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