How to Eat The Bird, When You Really Feel Like Flipping It!

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The holidays can be rough at any time of year because we are spending time with friends and family we don’t normally see. This year can be especially stressful because of the election. How can we approach Thanksgiving dinner with less stress and (hopefully) worry free? Use my simple “Stop, Drop, and Roll” technique.

STOP the Action: When the conversation turns to politics, or any topic that raises tension, excuse yourself from the table and give yourself a time out.

In situations of high stress, fear or distrust, cortisol floods our brain. We stop being able to strategize, build trust or be compassionate. The amygdala, our instinctive brain takes over. The brain then makes a chemical choice about how to best protect itself – fight, flight, freeze or appease.

To avoid those basic responses, stop talking, excuse yourself from the conversation or table and find a quiet place to breath. Go the bathroom, say you have to take a phone call, whatever it takes to remove yourself from the situation.  Take 10 deep breaths focusing on slow inhales and exhales by inhaling for 5 counts, holding for 2 counts and exhaling for 5 counts. Deep breathing decreases those feelings of anxiety, slows the heart rate down and reduces your blood pressure.

DROP the Topic: Once you have calmed down, go back to the table and find a way to divert the topic. Truth be told, no one at the table PROBABLY wants to be embroiled in a political discussion so someone should redirect the conversation.  It could be something simple like: “Did you see the way that the Ravens beat the Browns last week?” or “Did I tell you that Johnnie got an A in math after struggling all year?”  If those don’t work, you can be more direct.  "You know what? I don’t know about you but this election season was really stressful for me. What do you think about savings politics for another time? How about we each of us to go around the table and say what we are thankful for?“ Come to your dinner prepared with 5 or 10 topics you can use to divert the conversation.

ROLL on: Like water on a duck’s back, put that argument behind you. Those folks around the table are family and friends and they’ve been in your life for a long time. Don’t take their opinions or arguments personally. Every person has a viewpoint, which they are entitled to it, just like you are entitled to your viewpoint. Yours isn’t better than theirs and vice versa. 

If you find yourself angry or resentful about what is happening ask yourself: What’s more important? Expressing my opinion or making sure love is present in this relationship?  As far as I’m concerned, we need all the love we can get right now!

I led a free webinar on this very topic chock full of more ideas about how to manage the holidays. If you’d like a link, drop me a note: jencoken@gmail.com.

My next free webinar will be happening on December 20th and is called: “Be Like the Airlines and Leave Your Baggage Behind: 5 Techniques to Enter the New Year with a Clean Slate.” Seating is limited so register soon!

If you are going through any transition right now and are interested in new ways to deal with your circumstances powerfully, send an email to jencoken@gmail.com to schedule a free 30-minute Discovery Call with me.

Jennifer CokenComment