Shared by Keiser University Professor and Mental Health Expert Paul Hugens

 Paul Brooke Hugens, MA, a Psychology professor at Keiser University’s Flagship Campus shares that anxiety is the most common and understandable of experiences many people may have in the holiday season.  This year anxieties may be compounded by the addition of the rancorous political transition.

Here are a few tips he offers for keeping balance as we gather with family members and loved ones.

1) Focus on the present moment: Anxiety is rarely experienced as a current event; we have anxieties when we are projecting into negative possibilities in the future or reflecting on negative experiences of the past. Ask yourself if you are presently in an actual harm, or is it your thoughts about the possibility of events that are causing difficulty.

2) Decrease the pressure on yourself and others: Often family holiday gatherings are charged with excessive emotion because we place so much emphasis on the meaning of the gatherings. Yes, it’s so rare that we all get together. And when will we see each other again? However, believing things must be perfect and that everyone MUST be happy will ruin the gift of the time we have together. Let it go. It will be what it will be.

3) Accept others exactly as they are: OK, we have family members we love dearly, and sometimes they will disappoint us. An uncle may drink too much. A child may be ungrateful, or parent may be insensitive to the feelings of others.  Not one of us is perfect, and we all wish we could be better than we truly are.  Accept everyone as a work in progress and you can be much happier.

Tips for the post-election era:

1) Set the expectation of civility: If you are the host of a holiday meal, you can lead by example, and let your guests know that while we all have opinions the purpose of the family get together is to celebrate our care and love for each other.

2) Seek common ground: The vast majority of people who have strong political opinions have them because they have a deep love of their nation. While we may disagree on the way to achieve these goals. Our goals and values are often the same.

3) Be aware of the costs: Point out that politics will come and go, but your family will last a lifetime. Is it really worth alienating a loved one or relative because you wish to express your political opinions?

Paul Brooke Hugens, MA, is a mental health expert and a psychology professor at Keiser University’s Flagship Residential Campus in West Palm Beach, Florida. Classes he teaches include Positive Psychology, Personality Theory, Sports Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, and more.

Hugens has been teaching psychology for 6 years and has been providing counseling and psychotherapy services for over 25 years. Additionally he has conducted team building, project management, and consulting for Dow-Jones, Hearst Communications, Sapient Corporation, Harcourt-Brace, and Grey Advertising.

Professor Hugen’s interest in Mindfulness stems from a life time meditation practice and an academic interest in attention, focus and emotional regulation as it impacts human performance and human experience.  How is it that we can choose what impacts us or not? Can we control our deepest thoughts and feelings? And what price do we pay if we ignore them? In short he is a ‘Human-Positive Client Centered’ therapist who likes to explore ‘things that make living great!’