Written By: Meg Breedan M.Ed. and Regina Carrick LPC

The Other Holiday Workout!

November is the start of the holiday season and planning family visits, who is going where and who will be invited to the Thanksgiving dinner (or not) can be stressful and anxiety producing. Perhaps your stress is the dread of having to be with family members with whom you have nothing in common or you attend out of duty but your stomach tightens thinking about the idea of being together?

Just as it takes practice learning a new exercise to strengthen our gluts or motivation to start a home exercise program, it is a similar process when thinking about one’s family in a new way.

Dr. Murray Bowen wrote, “If you can get a person-to-person relationship with each living person in your extended family, it will help you ‘grow up’ more than anything else you could ever do in life.” (Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, by Murray Bowen, M.D.).

Our physical health and healing is impacted by the rise and fall of tension in our most important relationships. So working on strengthening your part in the relationship pays off in your immune system’s capacity to fight illness, your stress system’s capacity to return to calm and your overall resilience.

No doubt about it, family gatherings can be stressful. Below are 5 TIPS to think about and try this holiday season as you enter the Family Gym:

  1. Can you use the time with family as an opportunity to learn about yourself in a new way?
  2. Can you get curious about the family member to tend to avoid?
  3. What do you notice within your own body as you interact withfamily .
  4. How can you interrupt old patterns to become more flexible?
  5. What can you try other than the traditional ways of managing? (ie over eating, drinking alcohol or napping)
  6. How can you have fun with your family?

The family emotional gym provides a workout that strengthens our most important bonds.