I love my family and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world, but I tell you what, they really know how (and when) to push my buttons. I’m 33 years old and I swear, in their eyes, I’m still that shy little girl.  My family can be passively aggressively judgmental with seesawing moods, and all the other nuances of typical family dynamics.

Ok Laurel, now say 10 nice things about your family and go sit in the corner in time out.  Phew!  Actually, my family, like yours, I’m sure, is lovely, fun, and wonderfully supportive…..but they can be all of the aforementioned things too.  I’m always eager to see them, and at the same time, I’ll admit to being tense about certain interactions.

I think it goes without saying that family, as lovely as they usually are, can be a sure source of stress during what is supposed to be the happy bonding time of the holidays.  I know I’m not alone in feeling this way which is why I wanted to offer some tips for helping to manage stress that may come up this Thanksgiving.

Tips to Reduce Stress While You’re with Family

Prepare yourself ahead of time

There are predictable interactions with certain family members that will inevitably hurt, annoy, or stress you out.  You must realize that it’s impossible to change people.  Realize, also, that you are 100% in control how you react to a situation.  If they start with the criticism, passive aggressiveness, or whatever it is they’re doing that gets under your skin, you have three choices:

  1. Get angry and reactive, which can end in nothing other than a fight,
  2. Interrupt them (nicely) and tell them you know what they’re about to do and would they please stop because it makes you feel x, y, or z.  You may find that they were completely unaware and actually very sorry for hurting you;
  3. Try not to take it personally and quickly change the subject to one which you both enjoy discussing.

Let go of any judgement or criticism you hold toward them.

You may also want to ask yourself if you are the one judging or criticizing any of them.  Do you carry any deep seeded blame or resentment towards them?  Now is the time to let all of that go.  If you need to get something off of your chest before you can forgive and forget, go find a tree and pretend it is that person and let it all out, everything you’ve ever wanted to say to that person, then tell them you forgive them and ask for their forgiveness for holding on to the blame, resentment, or regret for so long.  You’ll feel a thousand times better and in a much better, more loving space to receive their company.

Have a space where you can get away from it all.

Like I said, family can make you crazy.  Being in the same space with them for more than a few hours can really tax your nerves.  When I’m around my family for too long I sometimes need a place where I can get away to be by myself, relax, and regroup.  Find a place for yourself before the family comes this year, even if you have to drive to get to it, then make sure to guard it fiercely.  What I do is I make an excuse to go to the grocery store, then I drive down the road to the nearest patch of forest, and sit in my meditation spot by the creek.

Here are some essential oils to diffuse while around family this Thanksgiving:

When family is in town, or you have traveled to see them, your whole world becomes disrupted for a few days.  Routines are upset, buttons are pushed, emotions and stress are flying high, old wounds can become opened, and confidence may even wain around certain members of the family.  Here are some essential oils you can try that will help you stay calm, confident, and grounded with a better ability to deal with all the stress.

Rosemary – helps in times you to adjust to times of transition and change, supports you in feeling assured during times of great change in understanding or perspective.

Lemongrass – a powerful cleanser of negative energy and emotions, helps you to let go of past issues and to see situations with greater clarity.

Arborvitae – very grounding, addresses the need to control outcomes in your life and invites you to live with peace and joy.

Basil – the oil of renewal, helps you to cope with stressors, supports you when under a great amount of strain, and helps you sleep better.

Bergamot – the oil of self-acceptance, relieves feelings of self-judgement, supports self-love.

Cardamom – the oil of objectivity – helps you to regain objectivity and self-control, helps to bring balance, mental clarity and objectivity during moments of extreme anger and frustration, and allows you to feel more at peace, calm and in control.

Clove – the oil of boundaries – supports you in standing up for yourself and to be proactive, helps you to build up appropriate boundaries and defenses, and to live true to yourself.

Thyme – the oil of releasing and forgiving – assists in addressing trapped feelings, helps to let go of negativity, so you can feel more tolerance and patience for others, leading to the ability to receive love and offer forgiveness.

I hope you find these tips helpful and that you enjoy and calm, peaceful, and joyous Thanksgiving with your family this year!

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