How to cope with the holiday stress

It's a time to give thanks, but all too often Thanksgiving dinner can be a recipe for disaster. Dinner table discussions can quickly turn heated, as family members with different values, political views and life choices gather over turkey. Mark Bell and Doug Withrow, family therapists with Psychological Counseling Services in Scottsdale, have advice for families who want to take conflict off the table.
"First and foremost tell yourself 'I am going to wait five seconds and three breaths before I respond to anything,'" said Bell.
Families should also have a game plan before heading into dinner and set expectations. If a certain family member is known to have an opposing political viewpoint, don't be surprised if it comes up at the dinner table.
"We don't have to take the bait...we can agree to disagree," said Withrow.
The therapists also recommend thinking of topics beforehand to diffuse tense situations. Start simple, by catching up on life.
"When people are talking about themselves, they have less time to be focusing in on problems or issues they have with someone else," said Bell.
Also, families should set aside another time to discuss unresolved issues.
"If there are deeper issues a lot of times we wait for Thanksgiving for those issues to come up," said Withrow.
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