5 Secrets for Enjoying a Drama-Free Holiday

Tips for a happy, stress-free holiday season.

By Debra K | Posted December 9, 2013 |
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 The following article was contributed by Eric Stephenson.  Eric teaches individuals, businesses and organizations how to decrease drama and create environments where humans thrive. Find him at www.dramafreeinc.com.

“What’s rock and roll without a little drama? A little mix it up?” – David Lee Roth

Tis’ the season that is upon us. For whatever reason, I tend to hear the old Alka Seltzer commercial jingle: “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz… oh what a relief it is.” Images of overeating, over consuming and over DRAMA-tization are commonplace. For many of us, the holidays are an enjoyable time filled with wonder, friends and family. For others, well… not so much.

When you look back on your recent history, what analogy would best describe your holiday experience—the Titanic, a Norman Rockwell Christmas, The Simpsons or backstage at a Van Halen concert? Chances are, it’s probably a colorful combination of all of the above.

This year, take a stab at employing these five secrets for diffusing holiday drama:

  1. Identify in advance who and what will push your buttons– we all have “hot spots” family members and old friends tend to push. Intensity may increase because we have possibly not been around them for a while. The key is to identify these buttons before the holidays because chances are, they will get pushed- perhaps even pounded on: “I know my mother is going to ask why I’m dating a man with three children.” Like a fishhook with a big fat worm on the end of it, we would be wise to recognize the hook. This is the first step towards swimming merrily downstream.
  2. Employ this “Power Question”: Inevitably, we will all be forced to interact with the cousin we haven’t seen in twenty years or your sister’s new boyfriend. Instead of feeling anxious or reaching for another cocktail to numb you, ask a question that will get them engaged around their favorite subject- themselves!  Step back and ask your Uncle Fred: “Fred, what is your true passion in life? You know, that thing you do that you lose yourself in?” This one question is the gateway into not only breaking the ice but also a deeper appreciation of the sides you might not ever see of this person in front of you.
  3. Establish your “sane connection”: This is the holiday version of the buddy system. Enlist a friend from home or a family member that will be available to you when things get stressful or start to go south. Have a plan to reach them by phone or Skype if needed. This person has the lifeline when it’s time to pull you back to shore.
  4. Practice “Less is more” behavior: Whether it is alcohol, gift giving or the length of time you entertain guests, go for quality not quantity. Sometimes three days is just plenty to spend non-stop with family. When the trip gets extended to four, the law of diminishing returns kicks in.
  5. Practice non-judgment: Psychologist Carl Rogers coined the phrase: “Unconditional Positive Regard” which is defined as a nonjudgmental acceptance and support of a person’s character and conduct regardless of what that person does or says. There is a caveat- it doesn’t necessarily mean the actions or behaviors have your approval. As author Seth Godin likes to point out: “People are weird. Let them be weird. It makes for a more colorful life.” Let go of that perfectionist/control freak within you.

Chances are your holiday will be filled with happiness, surprise, disappointment, sadness and spontaneity—just like mine.

DON’T MISS A SINGLE HEALTHY RECIPE THIS SEASON: From now until the New Year, Chefs from all over the country are providing you with their best healthy holiday recipes. Follow the Recipe Redo Blog to receive as they post.
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