Why Holiday Family Gatherings are Stressful

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Since the holidays can be an occasion when we get together and are reminded of what we don’t have, family gatherings are often stressful around this time of year. In some cases, family members criticize one another and end up fighting.  [Scroll down for video]

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Why is stress among family members especially potent during the holidays?

According to Popular Science, “Feeling stressed out by the people you love can feel isolating, but if you’re one of the people for whom this is the case, you’re far from alone. There isn’t much hard data on this, but several experts told Popular Science that many or most people feel some degree of stress surrounding their families. And though some people stress about it more than others because of their personalities or family history, the stress itself is a “very normal” feeling, says Pamela Regan, a psychology professor at California State University in Los Angeles.”

By definition, “Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from demanding circumstances. That can have both psychological and physical effects. “If you feel anxious, rushed, or pressured, your body changes—your heart rate rises and some people say they feel nauseous,” says Terri Orbuch, a relationship expert and sociology professor at Oakland University. Usually, these effects are short-lived, but over time the effects of stress can take a toll on the body, especially if an individual doesn’t know how to handle his stress well. “Many psychological theories look at the accumulation of stress—if we don’t figure out some positive coping mechanisms, we’re not able to reduce the effects of current and future stress,” Orbuch adds.”  Read more…

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