a visibly stressful family gathering during the holidays. dealing with anxiety at family gatherings

Christmas; The celebration of Christ’s birth, and typically, lots of family time. Even though it’s supposed to be a time of greater joy, for a lot of people the increased family time can equal greater stress and anxiety.

It is possible, however, to navigate even the stormiest of family waters while retaining your joy for the season. It isn’t necessarily easy, but with a few tricks in mind, it is possible. Here are a few “mind-hacks” to help you get through it well.

1.) Be Curious. You can’t be curious and unhappy at the same time. Often in relationships we feel the need to defend ourselves or our position. We feel especially justified in doing so when matters of faith are the topic of conversation with family members.

One of the concepts from Catholic Mindfulness that helps to alleviate anxiety or stress in almost any situation is to approach it like an explorer.

You can also think of yourself as a reporter, entering into the family situation as one who is curious and simply there to report the facts of what you find. The reporter’s job is to stay out of the conflicts, and you can too.

2.) Be Humble. Pope Francis has beautiful words about this in chapter 4 of Amoris Laetitia:

(98) It is important for Christians to show their love by the way they treat family members who are less knowledgeable about the faith, weak or less sure in their convictions. At times the opposite occurs: the supposedly mature believers within the family become unbearably arrogant. Love, on the other hand, is marked by humility; if we are to understand, forgive, and serve others from the heart, our pride has to be healed and our humility must increase.

So there you have it. Along with curiosity, we must have humility.

You see, there is a LOT that we can do to improve our holiday adventures with family, even if they are “less knowledgeable about the faith, weak or less sure in their convictions.” Or whatever else the stress may come from.

Don’t forget the words of Fr. Jacques Philipe: “Any reason that causes you to lose your peace is a bad reason.” There’s nothing worth fighting over at the family dinner table that is important enough to make you lose your peace.

When you maintain your peace, by remembering the two points above, you will bring the joy of Christ to the table more than any argument ever could.

Catholic mindfulness praying exercises

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