Jennifer A. Samp Ph.D.

Conflict Matters


Thanksgiving: A Time for Connection and a Time for Stress

How to manage the stress of the holiday by carving out time for yourself.

Posted Dec 22, 2018

We are at the time of year of many family gatherings, kids home from school, and face it — for some of us, much stress. Often people think that the solution to every problem in a relationship is to spend more time with our partners and extended family. However, the reality is that it's sometimes better to give yourself some space. Some new terms include “self-care” or “mindfulness.” No matter what the terminology, if you give yourself the opportunity to take a break or engage in self-care, it can rejuvenate you. Think of giving yourself space as an opportunity to decompress, pursue your passions, or to take a “mini vacation.” Space can reignite your passions, as well as provide an opportunity to see your partner in a new light. Take time to nurture yourself, and you will be inspired to be a more engaged partner, parent, and member of society.

When you think about carving out your own space amongst potential chaos, here are some tips to keep in mind: Take time for you. 

Source: Thanksgiving/shutterstock

1. Be honest with yourself. What do you want to do? It is tough to answer this question sometimes, as we feel guilty about making the best Thanksgiving spread, preparing the best Hanukkah celebration, organizing the perfect Kwanza tribute, and/or pulling off the perfect Christmas. However, we all need to remember that taking time away for yourself is an important part of managing the stress of the holidays. In a house full of people, it may feel difficult to take time for yourself. So how can you do it? There is not one concrete answer. For some people, it may be taking a walk, for others it may be watching reality TV. Whatever it is, accept no negative judgments. Moreover, you can use your space as an opportunity for growth and enlightenment. When you know you have your own space, your heart can open to new discussions and new opportunities.

2. Set healthy boundaries. It’s OK to set limits and say, “No.” Be clear about your needs in a respectful way.

3. Remove the toxicity in your life. An important part of carving out your own space for self-care is to remove yourself from situations that are upsetting. So consider: Are there people that are bringing you down? Can you remove yourself from these relationships? Can you distance yourself? If not, can you remove yourself from the room where a toxic person sits? Remember you are in charge of yourself and if other people are creating conflict in your life, it may be time to build some space to be the best person you can be.