Updated November 20, 2022

While the holidays can be a wonderful time of the year for many people, they can also be lonely and anxiety-ridden for others. But what if we told you that your overall health would improve if you spent more time with friends and family (even your annoying uncle)? Research shows that people with strong ties to others live longer, happier, and healthier lives. So, even if you are dreading the inevitable political conversation with your brother-in-law, that dialogue can actually be beneficial if you utilize some best practices. FirstLantic has some tips for not only surviving (but thriving) during the holiday season this year.

Positive communication is one of the keys to a happy celebration. It doesn’t mean you can’t have some debates, but you need to do it in a way that creates a dialogue and not a diatribe. With the divisiveness in our country, there is also bound to be some friction between family members. However, we could all use a lesson in listening more effectively and trying to see each other’s viewpoints. We know – it’s easier said than done but practice these five techniques, and you might be surprised at the outcome.

  1. Use active listening – listening is different from simply hearing. Active listening means that you are engaged and respectful and ask questions if you want to clarify a point. A great approach can be to paraphrase what someone else says to ensure that you heard them correctly and understood their intent and not just the words. In fact, why not try to listen more and talk a little less?
  2. Put yourself in their shoes – at the end of the day, the world would be extremely dull if we all thought alike. At the same time, differing viewpoints don’t have to create a wedge. It’s important to understand where the other person is coming from and why. What experiences have they had that make them think differently from you? Is there a middle ground that you can both find on the topic? Life is a lot greyer than most want to admit, so take a deep breath and try to at least see the common denominators before you start defending or arguing your position.
  3. Watch your body language – sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it, including expressions like that fake smile, rolling your eyes, or even that sarcastic tone. All of these things can indicate to the other person that you’re not open to their opinion and can create unnecessary tension for both of you. Remember, you don’t have an obligation to agree on everything, but you owe the other person respect and civility.
  4. Drink a little less – we are not suggesting that you can’t enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner, but too much alcohol can quickly escalate aggressive emotions. If you sense yourself getting a little hot under the collar, try drinking more water and imbibing a little less, and it can help you avoid those triggers that can ruin what could otherwise be an extraordinary occasion.
  5. Avoid the topic – when all else fails, avoid a topic you know will lead to a heated argument. If someone tries to bait you into a conversation, you don’t want to have, simply tell them that you would prefer to discuss something else. If that doesn’t work, try peppering them with questions about a topic they are passionate about, i.e., work, sports, gardening, or any subject, to get them off the controversial issue. Some things are better left unsaid for the sake of a peaceful gathering.

For those of you that aren’t lucky enough) to have friends and family close by, try to get out and socialize anyway. Whether volunteering for the day at a soup kitchen, attending a local dinner at the community center, or hiring a home caregiver for companionship, we can almost guarantee you will feel better by socializing. Remember, your health could depend on it!

For some other suggestions on ways to make the most of your holidays, we have put together some additional resources below:

If you or someone you know is interested in home healthcare or companionship services in South Florida, FirstLantic can help.  We have provided our patients with the highest quality in-home care services in Broward and Palm Beach Counties since 2000. Click here to contact us.

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