How to avoid family fights at Thanksgiving

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

It takes more than an Adele song to quell conflict. Family fighting is so relatable it makes us laugh in movies and on TV, but the real feelings are no laughing matter. And during the holidays – the scenes are center stage. So how do you draw the curtain on your emotions without closing the show?

The first thing is acknowledging yourself … you have feelings and a reaction toward family members, and they press your buttons. So it’s important to be aware of that," said Neely Benn, LCSW, NorthShore University HealthSystem.

And be aware of how to turn those buttons down.

“Breathe immediately, deep breaths, also leave -- go for a 15 minute walk. If someone says something that upsets you and your blood starts to boil, really, deep breathing, stay focused, stay present. It’s a really important practice,” Benn said.

That will lower your blood pressure and help manage your emotions. And understand you can’t manage others.

“You know your family members might spark emotion in you. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean they are going to become angelic for those four or five days you celebrate, so having realistic expectations,” Benn said.

And don’t expect to be as happy as everyone else around you seems to be. A social media vacation may help prevent the emotion competition.

“I recommend avoiding social media over the weekend. Loneliness is very much an unwelcome guest. The holidays are not like the commercials, and we always don’t feel well. Just because everyone else is joyous does not mean we are joyful, too," Benn said.

To add joy, do call a loved one who is far away.

“Do not go on your newsfeed and post on their wall. Give them a call and listen to their words, listen to their sound, meet with them,” Benn said.

And if the conversation turns sour – think about turning on a holiday favorite. Build new memories by going back to old times.