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Healthy Relationships Over The Holidays: How Our Emotions Play an Essential Role

(created November 9, 2015)

Its that time again!  We are approaching one of the most stressful times of the year, holiday times.  Some of us may travel near or far in attempts to celebrate various traditions with our loves ones. Visiting with family and friends over Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Milad un Nabi, New Years and other religious observances can sometimes be like an obstacle course; navigating through emotional triggers and the emotional senstivities of others. Communicating our needs, thoughts, and ideas while being respectful of others can sometimes be like "walking a tight rope".  In order for us to stress less over the holidays, it is important to be proactive and aware of potential "emotional landmines or atomic bombs" when relating to those we share a common kinship or ancestry.  

Human beings are social animals and relationships play an important role in our lives. Oftentimes, we emotionally re-fuel or re-energize when socially relating to others. In fact, reseach suggest that people with healthy relationships have greater capacity to ward off disease and minimize psychological distress. Successful relationships begin with effective communication. So, in effect, good communication skills are responsible for our overall physical and mental well-being.


In anticipation, when visiting and interacting with those who know us the best, being aware of the emotional state of your family and friends is of utmost importance. Emotions are an inherent part of our relationships and we need to develop the right skills for communicating these emotions effectively. But, everyone is not born with good communication skills and when it comes to communicating emotions, it becomes even more difficult.  This is because emotions are an internal state and other than a few physical, or nonverbal, ways of communicating them (e.g. eye contact, voice tone, voice inflection, facial expressions, body posture, and hand gestures etc.,).  Communicating something that is personal and/or subjective with your loved ones requires deliberate thought, or thinking through the message you are trying to convey in the most disarming, respectful, and courteous way.   Just remember your purpose when convey a message is to deliver a clear and simple message rather than relaying a message that is riddled with what I call potential "Relationships Road Blocks".

Relationships Road Blocks

  • scapegoating
  • blame
  • moral superiority
  • control
  • revenge
  • self-pity
  • or perhaps having a hidden agenda when conveying your message

In order for us to communicate more effectively, we need to learn how to develop and use our emotional Intelligence. We have to learn how to identify our own as well as others emotions, and use them in a positive way.


  • be aware of our emotional state; self-awareness, or gaging how your feelings and what has been going on with your personal life (i.e.,.your emotional barometer: behavior-time-feelings)
  • be aware of the emotions of others and having empathy; respectfully disagree and disarm others with a sense of humility or humor
  • motivate ourselves; the use of positive affirmation and self-talk when initiating conversation with others
  • handling relationships. That's right...all relationships are managed.  In anticiaption of potential conflict, setting healthy boundaries, limiting the time you interact with others, and/or limiting the duration of your visit if possible.


The fact is, when we or others around us feel understood and cared about, a sense of acceptance and belonging rises. This breaks down barriers and simply makes relationships better. Like anything, this takes practice. A moment of connection, when emotionally relating to others in a meangful way,  is infectious and may have positive rippling effects across many family and friends during the holidays.

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