Sometimes during the holiday season we may encounter some family members that can be a challenge. How can we go from surviving to thriving during these times? If you encounter someone who “pushes your buttons” there are a few tools you can use to help you stay centered. 

Walk Away

I know the adage is you should never walk away from a fight; however, research shows that sometimes that is exactly what you need to do. If you find yourself getting angry or out of control walking away and giving your body a chance to recalibrate might be the best way to approach the situation. When you walk away, do something that takes your mind off the argument such as listen to some music you love or focus on nature. Whatever you do ,do not fume as to what the argument is and how you want to #%! the other person! By doing something that is comforting you are allowing your body to come back to center. After 20 minutes or so your serotonin should be boosted. Serotonin is known as the “don’t worry, be happy” soothing neurotransmitter. Once you are there perhaps you can than go back in and discuss your concerns in a more calm less angry state.


I am always talking about breathing. This is because your breath will also bring you back to a sense of calm and induce serotonin. When we get into a state of fear, anxiety, anger breathing is one sure way to calm the neurotransmitters down and come back to center. Try a “box” breath which is four breaths in, hold for four breaths, release for four breaths. Here is an image to help you remember…..

What you appreciate appreciates

Try making an appreciation list of all the things you can find that you like about a family member that might push your buttons. By focusing on those things and changing your lens you might find you actually can feel pretty good about them! It may begin things on a positive note and if things go haywire you can go and refer to your list or go back to tool 1 and 2! 


When we keep in mind what we are grateful for in our family we often find we don’t “sweat the small stuff. ” Each night continue to do your gratitude list and change it up each night. Relive the day focusing on what went well rather than the negative parts. Negativity, as I have said before, is like velcro, it’s easy to go to and let it stick; however, if we change our focus to what’s going well we are able to change our usual negative neural pathways.


Spending time journaling your thoughts can often heal your brain or a situation. James Pennebaker has done extensive research in this area and written several books on Writing to Heal. Another option is to keep a good times journal where you write down all that is going well! 

Your foundation

I often tell my clients from the beginning that if they keep their foundation firm they will be more resilient and able to manage any situation that comes their way. What is the foundation? First the basics – eat well, sleep well, exercise, and meditate. Do a SPICE check in with yourself to see where you are and what needs some attention. 

I wish you a very happy holiday! One in which you thrive not just survive. One in which you find joy, health, and happiness with others.