How to stop fighting on vacation

Summer travel: It’s what we’ve been looking forward to all winter – even more so after Attached to the homeland for more than two years. We fantasize about possible trips and meticulously plan them with our loved ones. Wherever we go, we all want to have fun and eat delicious food and have the best, most relaxing, most engaging time ever.

However, inevitably, there comes a time when things don’t go quite as expected.

You scream at your kids, who can’t take their eyes off their screens, that you didn’t spend money on a beach house for this. You and your partner, who somehow lost his phone on the way from the airport to check-in, end up having to hash out the darkest details of your relationship. in front of a bunch of strangers, who looked away, they were there. . Or maybe you and your friends, after a drunken night in Cancún that went terribly wrong, fly home together quietly, never knowing if they’ll ever talk again.

First things first: Breathe. This is completely normal.

“I don’t know a single person who hasn’t had this happen at some point,” says Dr. David Austernclinical assistant professor in department of psychiatry at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine. “I’ve 100% had adult tantrums at Disney.”

I 100% have had adult tantrums at Disney.

– Dr. David Austern

Yelling at each other on holiday is a panic response encoded in our DNA. It is connected to the amygdala, the part of our brain involved in fear processing, recognizing not only physical but also emotional and psychological threats, Dr. Antoinette Gupta, a psychologist based in Orange County. When we don’t feel like we’re getting what we need from our loved ones, we feel that we’re not important to them, that they’re not there for us. That causes physical suffering as well as behaviors and emotions that help us protect ourselves, from withdrawing to attacking.

In a way, the holiday is a key time for this because your expectations are high and your tolerance for disappointment is low, Austern notes. You may be somewhere relaxing and beautiful, but “you are in your normal routine. You may be in a different time zone, your circadian rhythm may be off, and that tends to disrupt executive functioning. We get pulled in a lot of directions, especially on a group trip.”

While the logical part of your brain can quiet the amygdala when it comes to minor frustrations, now, “It controls and informs your body that you’re in danger, and we’ll try to up… even if it’s just a phone” t connected to the car. “

“When we talk about persistent feelings of anger/frustration, there is often a cognitive gap between what we think we want to happen and what is happening,” said Austern, who brought the Griswolds to Walley World in “National Lampoon’s Vacation” added just to see that Park closed for renovation. His plan is ruined, Clark, the patriarch of the family, falls apart, and things go completely against the rails, going from vacation dream to holiday nightmare.

Nobody wants that. Here’s what to do instead.

Before you go: Share expectations and prepare for the unknown

Of course you should communicate. But it’s not just about logistics and getting to the airport on time.

Tamika Lewis, CEO and founder of WOC Therapy Inc., based in Los Angeles, recently vacationed in Thailand with her 11- and 13-year-old children. “Everybody has to do their own research and have their own idea of ​​what they want to experience,” she says. For her, that meant going to the temples; for her daughter, there is a plan to visit Terminal 21, a shopping mall in Bangkok; for her son, a tuk-tuk ride. “Be really clear about what people want to do and feel. Where people get into trouble is when those conversations don’t happen.”

Recently, for example, Lewis, also a licensed social worker, traveled with a group of women in Sedona, Ariz., in which “everyone” [had] a different idea of ​​what they want to experience” (for some, a maternal getaway with wine; for others, sober time). “The problem is that we never set the intention for this trip. We had to sit down and reset expectations. It’s a bit of a rock. “

“Judge the worth of others and set expectations,” said Austern, who recently took a trip to the Berkshires in Massachusetts with his wife — their first time away together without the twins. “We didn’t step foot on a trail,” he said. “We just drive to different towns and hang out. For us, that was great, but we said it up front: Okay, are you hoping to climb some mountain? No? Good.”

If differences emerge at the planning stage of your trip, you can work out compromises, decide if there are parts of your trip that you go on your own and let others do the same. or if there is no way to compromise, determine that this is probably not the trip to go on.

In fact, Walley World may be closed! Call ahead if you can (especially, Austern says, during COVID); buy tickets in advance for anything that might sell out; Check out what the weather might be like. And “if you can say to yourself, ‘This vacation wasn’t based on an experience that went exactly the way I hoped’, that might help manage some potential frustration. later,” he added.

If you can say to yourself, “This vacation isn’t based on an experience that will turn out exactly the way I hoped it would,” that might resolve some of the frustrations that might arise.

– Dr. David Austern

“I knew we were coming during the rainy season,” Lewis said of her trip to Thailand. “But I did a lot of research, planning activities and anticipating obstacles, like the weather.”

To ease the stress, Lewis also pre-arranged airport pick-ups and booked a few pre-packaged experiences, such as that tuk-tuk tour. Perhaps the most important plan of all is “to prepare carefully, tie the ends loosely and allow myself to be with my children and unplug,” she said. “When you’re away from the people you love, you want to be able to mentally be there and enjoy the time.”

In the heat of the moment: Pause and reflect

When agitation starts to build up, in addition to using relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation, it’s a good idea to remove yourself from the situation for a short time so you can calm down and adjust. This can be complicated if you’re in a car or small hotel room, recognizing Austern, but you can always say, “Let’s stop this, I need to calm down” or, if your companion is When your partner notices you’re upset, they might intervene with something like, “Do you want to take a breather and we’ll be back?”

“When one pulls back, it’s not because they don’t care, but because they’re overwhelmed,” says Gupta, who always calls for empathy for your partner, whether they take a fighting stance or a freeze. . “All of this builds up over time, and then something happens at the airport, someone loses their boarding pass or you’re late.” Suddenly, we switch to our perception of “I’m not important to you” or “I’m trying my best.”

In those reactive moments, realize what you’re doing, step back, and take a break. Once you and your partner agree that you’re both ready, come back and talk about it, openly and vulnerable.

Lewis adds that it is helpful to take the position of an observer rather than a critic, especially when discomfort begins to arise. If you can stay out of the judgment area, you can avoid unnecessary provocations that lead to fights.

“We went to this beautiful waterfall in Chiang Mai,” she said, “And there were insects, very large insects. My kids won’t come over; they are the Valley kids! I was very disappointed. But I have to be mindful of their sensitivity and let it go. And you know, that day was still great! “

After the battle: Don’t beat yourself up

“You won’t stop your initial panic attack from erupting, but the reason you have all of this is that you care about your family,” says Gupta. So be kind to yourself and your loved ones. People fight; everyone makes mistakes.

“In the world I want to live in, it is perfectly normal to have an occasional adult tantrum,” says Austern. “It’s just humanity that will emerge from time to time.”

Unfortunately, not every fight ends with everyone hugging and making up, even if you step back and try to reconnect afterwards. But you still have options. “If you’re feeling a certain way toward certain people, know that you can validate: I feel this way, this is true,” says Gupta.

Even if your partner doesn’t want to change, you can still take responsibility and take care of yourself. One way to do that is to set boundaries, such as limiting vacations with the person.

On vacation: Remember why you’re there

Lewis notes that perfection is impossible, and that’s probably not why you’re on vacation together. So get rid of it, and instead pursue fellowship, curiosity, or just spending time together, however it can happen.

“Focus on ‘Why am I doing this now?’ rather than “How did it go?” “What makes people decide to go to a lake house with that group is meaningful? What kind of relationship/recreational value do you want to connect with? It says something about that,” Austn suggests. what’s important to you; try to keep that in mind”.

When in doubt, remember that spending time with the people you care about and enjoying the true, messy glory of the experience is a gift.

“Maybe a vacation doesn’t lead to happiness or relaxation, but it still makes a lot of sense to put you in that environment with those people,” says Austern. “The more we can emphasize that, the better.”

https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2022-07-07/how-to-stop-fighting-on-vacation How to stop fighting on vacation

Russell Falcon

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