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How to Manage Stress While Gathering

Let’s be honest: families can be stressful! I used to think that it wasn’t as bad as I felt inside. Nobody else seemed bothered, everyone seemed calm even though in my head it was pure chaos.

Have you felt that way recently? The holidays can be stressful regardless, however what about everyday stress from our families? Maybe it’s that aunt or uncle that you only see once a year, how about the friend that’s been part of the family forever? Each one of these people can impact us differently, so let’s learn different ways to cope and unstress during these times.

get ahead of your stress responses

The family BBQ is the first place we will start. This alone can bring all kinds of unwanted feelings. The first thing we need to do is pause, make sure that we remember to just breathe!

So, what does that mean? While you are at the party, you realize that your stress level is rising. The first thing you want to do is walk away to a quiet space, this could be a bathroom, an area in the yard, or a quick walk away from the situation.

During this time, you can pause, close your eyes, and take some deep breaths in through your nose and breathe out your mouth. While you’re doing this make sure that you acknowledge the feelings within your body. Remind yourself that this is just a temporary emotion.

Taking a moment to get ahead of the stress response when you feel it coming on helps you feel better and more grounded.

look for the warning signs

Maybe you are in conversation with a loved one or a friend and it starts to get heated. You start to feel yourself get upset. This is the time that you must think about yourself.

Sometimes we just must agree to disagree with others. The stress involved in making a point isn’t always the best solution. As an individual, we need to learn ways to reduce stress levels so we can reduce unhealthy interactions with friends and family.

Taking care of yourself during stressful situations is most important. 

protect your boundaries

This brings up an important point, sticking to your boundaries and determining what you have control over. Sometimes we must understand that we just can’t control all situations with our friends and loved ones.

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Build healthy boundaries with our family and friends

When we allow our stress to get out of control, we lose control, and we put our boundaries to the side.

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Determine a time that you may be leaving the party and stick to it

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Manage your expectations of others

Sometimes our expectations are too high of other people, don’t expect changes in others, and manage those thoughts.

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Try not to allow others to influence your feelings

Walk away from negative conversations or agree to disagree. Sometimes it's just not worth the argument nor is the stress that's involved.

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Hang around people that are happy and make you happy to be around

There's no rule about you hanging around negative people or people that just bring you down. Make sure you're taking care of yourself!

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You can't control nor can you be responsible for everyone at the party

But you can bring your best energy and be responsible for your own experience.

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Take some time to just breathe

Go outside and walk a little, excuse yourself to the restroom, or just stand and breathe. Remember this is the time to take care of yourself and no one else.

Remember: whether it’s a holiday party, a dinner party with friends and family, or work-related event, spending time with each other is really what it’s all about.

Be present, remember to breathe, close your eyes, and just enjoy the experience of being around others.

Meet The Author

Lee Ann Weiler, Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP), and Expressive Arts Therapist (Qualifying) in Arizona



Meet The Author

Lee Ann is a Clinical Therapist at Sea Glass Mental Health. She works with teens, adults, and couples. Lee Ann specializes in PTSD, trauma, and women’s issues.

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