COLORADO SPRINGS – It’s the time when most folks are excited to attend a gathering between family and friends.
And while it’s important to give thanks and cherish those moments together, mental health professionals say it’s also important to plan ahead and be honest when it comes to expectations.
Clinician Heather Lea says during the holiday season, a lot of her patients struggle when things don’t go according to plan.
She says the best thing to do is have open conversations with your family about how to react to the unexpected.
“This is the time of year that we all look forward to getting together to have our family around us,” she said. “But things don’t always go the way that we expect them to and what should happen if that happens?”
Even though a roasted turkey will be your centerpiece this Thanksgiving, heated conversations around the dinner table might leave you feeling just as roasted.
So what should you do to plan ahead and avoid those awkward debates?
“If you have a very rambunctious family, it might be a really good idea to say ‘these are the things we’re not talking about this year, we can talk about anything else but if somebody brings this up, we’re going to change the subject,'” she recommended.
But if rules get broken, Lea suggests you speak up.
“If this is family that you feel really comfortable saying ‘you know what? this is getting a little heated, can we just take it down a notch or change the subject?’ say it, don’t be afraid!”
And if you’re dealing with someone new, it’s OK to walk away.
“Maybe you’re around guests that maybe aren’t family, which also happens a lot this time of year,” she explained. “It’s very polite to just excuse yourself.”
Most importantly, Lea says the best way to get through the holidays is to remind yourself and your family about what really matters.
“Have that conversation [of] ‘what are you grateful for?’ before you go to the dinner table.”
If you’re away from family this year, Lea says it also helps to hang out with friends or check in with family by calling or video chatting.
And if you just need a break and want to talk to a mental health professional, these three options are available:
Call: 844-493-TALK (8255)
Text: TALK to 38255
Walk-in to one of these facilities:
115 South Parkside Drive
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
6071 East Woodmen Rd, Suite 135
St. Francis Medical Center, North Care Bldg.
Open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., 7 days a week
1302 Chinook Lane
For more information, you can visit this link.