I'm dreading my upcoming family gathering any pointers?
Invariably, your least favorite uncle will ask prying questions about your love life, your Great-Aunt Jean will clear her throat incessantly at the dinner table, and your mom will make a comment about your hair. Taken together, it might be enough to set your eye to twitching, make you snappy, or get you reaching for one too many glasses of wine or helpings of dessert. While you can't stop the people you love from doing the things that drive you crazy, you can change your reaction to them.
Before your next family gathering, make a mental list of the behaviors that typically trigger your stress reaction. Once you're in the thick of the proceedings, vow to repeat a simple mantra as you take a deep breath each time one of your triggers occurs. Breathing deeply helps your body relax, while the mantra gives your mind something to focus on other than the annoying behavior, lessening its sting. It creates little opportunities for you to release stress before you react out of anger. And it might even help you enjoy the togetherness instead of simply enduring it.
Remedy: Mantra Meditation
A favorite word or phrase
Intermittent bursts of a few seconds
Before the big event, choose a favorite word or phrase to use as your mantra, such as "pure love," "amen," "bless his (or her) heart," "peace," or even "forgive them, Father." It could be any phrase the only requirement is that it has meaning to you.
Then make a mental list of the behaviors that trip your wires.
When you're at the gathering, every time one of your triggers occurs, take a full inhale and full exhale, repeating your mantra silently as you do. Promise yourself you won't speak, roll your eyes, or otherwise react until you've given yourself a few seconds to repeat your mantra.
Family gatherings are a particularly great place to practice this technique, because family dynamics can be so darn predictable and so desperately in need of a change. But you can use this technique during any stressful situation a job interview, a difficult conversation with a loved one, a traffic jam, and so on.
Taking a moment to de-stress before you respond to a rude comment from your Uncle Larry will likely help defuse the situation rather than escalate it, resulting in a more pleasant evening for everyone involved.
Repeating a mantra gives your thoughts a moment to rest before springing into action, making you more likely to react calmly.
A deep breath signals your body that the stress has passed, helping you relax even in the midst of an otherwise tense moment.