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by Dr. Brad Schwall
| Families, Grief and Loss, Parenting, Anxiety

WFAA Channel 8 News: Focus on a meaningful holiday, not an Instagram” holiday

Dr. Brad Schwall made a House Call to WFAA Channel 8 to share some tips for a great holiday season.

Gifts multiple

Question: Let’s say you’re getting ready for family gatherings and there’s some serious conflict happening in your family? How can you avoid hostility at the holidays?

Dr. Schwall: Conflicts happening throughout the year can be magnified at the holidays. If you’re not talking, there may be hurt or anger about the lack of connection. If you are together, there may be tension.

Any time of year, remember that you cannot change or control others, you can only CHOOSE how YOU respond and handle the situation.

Don’t expect things to be different. When together, just observe what is happening and your own reactions. While it can be healthy to address conflict directly, holiday gatherings are not the time.

Question: When we’ve lost a loved one during the year, the holidays can be tough. What can we do to keep our mood up and manage?

Dr. Schwall: Expect to have sadness. Experiencing that grief is a part of the healing process. Talk about the loved one you lost. Tell friends and family it’s OK to bring him or her up. Make new traditions. Find new ways of connecting with others. Break the holiday down into segments and think of what you can do during each time period to do things that are enjoyable.

Question: There’s often high expectations for how the holidays should go and people’s social media posts may add to this. How can we focus on what’s best for us and make sure our priorities don’t get out of order?

Dr. Schwall: Focus on the meaning you find in the holidays. Focus on how you want to celebrate. Don’t strive just for an Instagram holiday – focus on closeness and meaning. Again, what happens during the year, continues to happen at the holidays – toddlers will have tantrums, we will have our same parenting challenges. Be patient and calm, don’t react. Keep a positive attitude. You set the tone.

Question: What makes for a great holiday?

Answer: Be grateful. Gratitude is great any time of year. Focus on your happiness. No matter our circumstances, be in tune with true happiness and gratitude. Even when things are going well in our lives, we often take for granted what we have. And when there are rough spots in our lives, being grateful can help us keep perspective.

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