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Managing Anger for Harmonious Holidays: A Brief Strategy to Better Self-Management

The holiday season, while filled with joy and cheer, can also be a source of stress and frustration, particularly within personal relationships. Whether it's tension with a spouse, partner, or family, the season's pressures can lead to heightened anger. However, effective anger management techniques can help maintain peace during the festivities. This guide will walk you through tips and techniques to manage anger and ensure harmonious relationships during this special time of year.


A Brief Strategy to Better Self-Management
Managing Anger for Harmonious Holidays

First and foremost, we must learn to recognize our personal triggers as this is the most powerful initial step in managing anger. These triggers are unique to each individual, and shaped by personal experiences, temperament, and history. Common triggers might include feeling criticized, ignored, excluded, abandoned, dismissed, misunderstood, not prioritized, or even excessive merriment (too much stimulus) at holiday gatherings. Once you've identified these triggers, you can strategize ways to handle them before they escalate into significant relationship issues.


The Strategy

When you find yourself triggered, the first thing you should do is take a deep breath. This may sound like a cliche, but it is one of the most effective ways to calm your nervous system and reduce the flow of stress hormones to your brain. This will help bring clarity to your thoughts. It is important to remember that the people around you are not your enemies, and they are not intentionally trying to trigger you. Try to choose this belief, as it can help calm you and allow you to navigate the situation more effectively. Additionally, focus on making good memories and remember that this time of year is meant for celebrating with loved ones. This mindset will help put things into perspective.


Practicing mindfulness is also a critical tool for managing anger and stress. Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and how they affect your behavior. If you feel your anger or frustration rising, take a moment to pause and take some deep breaths. This conscious focus on the present can help reduce impulsive reactions and promote calm.


Now that your central nervous system has calmed down a bit, let's focus on clear, respectful communication as it is essential in resolving conflicts. Rather than casting blame, try using "I" statements to express your feelings. For instance, instead of saying, "You're always rude to my family," say, "I may be misunderstanding here but how you communicate to my family really hurts. Can you help me understand what is happening because I am likely missing something?" This approach keeps discussions productive, keeping the guard down and preventing your loved ones from becoming defensive, and provides some margin of error because you could actually be missing something.


Okay, so you are trying to calm yourself and communicate better, but you still have an edge about you, well, timeouts are not just for kids! During stressful situations, a timeout can be useful in managing anger. If a conversation is escalating, stepping away for a few minutes can help regain composure (maybe after some breathing) and provide the space to reflect on the situation logically. And, if you didn't know, it's important to set a timer when taking a break from a conversation, so the other person doesn't feel like they're being abandoned, rejected, or dismissed. In other words, keeping clear communication while using boundaries helps to limit the triggering effects of you being triggered. So, set the timer, come back, and if you need more time, set another timer. Repeat until you are able to communicate calmly.


One final activity that can be helpful during the holiday season, is the all-too-important practice of gratitude. I know this may sound to some like a silly thing but truly the shift in focus can help to maintain, not just a positive outlook, but a deeper connection with those that you are trying to love. So, instead of dwelling on the negatives, take the time to appreciate the positive aspects of your relationships and the joyful moments you share. This perspective can help reduce tension and anger, promoting a peaceful and joyful atmosphere. Don't worry the negatives will still be there if you need them, but I don't recommend using them to elevate yourself, satiate a grudge, embolden your sense of rightness, or control situations through the manipulation of others' pain—just a thought.


Angry Ornament

In conclusion, managing anger during the holiday season is essential for nurturing healthy relationships with your loved ones, that is if you want to keep them. You can effectively handle stress and anger by recognizing triggers, breathing effectively, practicing mindfulness, adopting clear communication, taking timeouts, and cherishing gratitude. Remember, the holiday season is about remembering what legacy of those who came before you and the sacrifices they have made, it's about sharing love and joy, and focusing on what truly matters: your relationships. With continued practice of these techniques (daily if necessary), you're better equipped for a happier, more peaceful holiday season.


Note: If managing anger becomes overwhelming, don't hesitate to seek professional help. If you are in Colorado you can Check out Voyages Counseling, if not please seek out local support wherever you are.

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