Tense Relationships? Try These Tips to Ease the Stress
The Easter holidays with family can be a stressful time. It might be that sibling you just never got along with or that uncle who always triggers a heated political debate. Sometimes these situations may just pass by, with the holidays generally being an enjoyable time.
However, there may be times when the tension may feel like a tightrope about to snap. Stress and conflict can create a negative cloud over the holiday season.
The Oxford Dictionary defines stress as, “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.”
If not managed properly, stress can have long-term impacts including cardiovascular effects, muscular tension, headaches, exhaustion, and weight fluctuations. Stress management and relaxation techniques can reduce the negative impacts stress can have on your body, your relationships, and your life.
Further to that, learning appropriate conflict resolution strategies can help you solve problems and ease stress caused by tense relationships.
Step 1: Breath
The power of stress management breathing techniques is not only for meditation or avid yogis. Control of your breath can help slow the heart rate, lower blood pressure, and promote feelings of calm and serenity.
Slowing of the heart rate halts the body’s ‘fight or flight’ system, which is the body’s response to stress. In turn, cortisol, the stress hormone, returns to normal levels. This prevents harmful effects from occurring.
When you find yourself caught up in a stressful situation, take a moment to just breathe. Resist the temptation to react!
Count to 4 as you take a deep inhale. Hold your breath for 2 counts. Take in a tiny bit more air. Exhale and completely empty your lungs. As you exhale and push your breath away, allow your shoulders and neck to relax. Repeat this 2-3 times.
You may feel a little silly forcefully inhaling and exhaling at the family dinner table, so excuse yourself. Take a moment alone in another room, such as the washroom or kitchen. Allow yourself time to breathe.
This stress management breathing technique will enable you to approach the problem logically. It allows you to tackle the stressor or problem with a clear mind.
Step 2: Communicate
Surprisingly, many struggle with communication. Although technology connects us constantly, many fail to communicate efficiently and effectively in face-to-face situations. We let our emotions take control. This strategy often turns the situation into a win or lose fight.
Change your viewpoint. Enter the conversation with an open mind. Engage respectfully and positively. Speak to the other person as an equal. Talking down may only infuriate the other person, turning the situation into a power struggle. Avoid accusations.
First and foremost, make it clear that you value the relationship. Convey that you want to solve the issue at hand. If you were in the wrong at a certain point, admit it and apologize. Our egos tend to get in the way, so check it at the door. Remember, it is not a power struggle.
Be honest. State how you feel about the situation and why. In some cases, the other person may not have realized their actions or words caused harm. Maintain an open and attentive body language. Make eye contact and uncross your arms and legs. Face the person and maintain a relaxed posture.
Step 3: Listen
Listening is the other half to effective communication and conflict resolution. Be present in the moment. Allow the other person to have their say.
Actively listen to what they say. Understand and empathize. Concentrate. Avoid interrupting. When a pause allows, ask open-ended questions to understand further. Put yourself in their shoes. Although you may not agree with their actions, try to understand them.
A lot of issues arise between individuals due to misunderstanding. Rephrase what they said to communicate that you understood.
Step 4: Resolution
By this point, the conflict may already be solved, and your stress may have dissolved.
If this is not the case, explore solutions. What can each side do to ensure the issue does not arise again? Compromise. There are no winners or losers. Come to a resolution together, while still keeping an open mind.
Conflict resolution techniques are important for healthy and successful relationships. Although Easter weekend is over, the stress of the holidays may still be weighing heavily on your shoulders.
There are a variety of stress management and relaxation techniques you can do on your own time to feel better and calm your mind. Stress management benefits include increased energy levels, improved mood, better focus, increased productivity and increased life longevity.
Stress management and relaxation techniques you can make use in your day-to-day include:
- Exercise regularly. Exercise has a variety of benefits including decreasing stress, reducing the risk of chronic diseases, improving mood, increasing sleep quality, and preventing injuries and pain. Most health professionals recommend 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every week. Go for a walk, run or bike ride. Reap the benefits exercise has to offer.
- Keep a journal. Let it all out. Vent on paper. It can help you better understand yourself and any problems you may be facing. It makes order out of chaos. Maybe things are not as bad as they seem and there is an easy solution.
- Talk to a friend. Maybe writing is not your thing! Call a friend and vent. A true friend will support and help you sort out your thoughts. A second opinion doesn’t hurt either.
- Start meditating. Meditation continues to gain popularity and from successful entrepreneurs to celebrities, it has become a major part of many individuals’ daily routines.
- Find a balance between work, family, and activities you enjoy. Make time for yourself. It could be as simple as enjoying a warm bath or finding a hobby you love.
- Play music. Various scientific studies have explored music’s link to reduced stress levels. Dance out or jam out! Find a beat or tune that elevates your mood.
Find coping mechanisms that work for you and your lifestyle. Continually strive for self-improvement. Enhance not only your life but the lives of those around you.
Stress during the holidays is common. You are not alone. However, discovering techniques to deal with stress and conflicts is important for your overall health and wellbeing. Conflict resolution, stress management, and relaxation techniques can help you cope with stressors not only during the holidays but in your daily life.