Expecting company? Here are seven tips.
One: Think endurance strategies. Tone down your own responsiveness. Wear a warm, tender smile on your face, and that is all. Say very little from either your own input, or in response to theirs. Wait until the end of their visit to add your stories, or to become very responsive to them, so that if you collapse it will be at the end of your time together. Conserve your own energy.
Two: Examine yourself frequently for stress. Do tummy checks: "Is my tummy tight?" And breathing checks: "Is my breathing shallow?" Consciously do biofeedback. Loosen your tummy muscles, deepen your breathing, slow your actions, and lower your voice. As Shakespeare wrote in King Lear: "Her voice was ever soft and low—an excellent thing in a woman." This will all have a calming effect upon you.
Three: Keep a running private conversation going with the Lord. Pray over everything—even over what to have for dinner. This sweet internal fellowship will renew you ongoingly. Praise Him a great deal in your insides. Praise refreshes, and restores perspective about the big picture. Relatives often take us down into the minutiae of the little picture.
Four: If you feel any criticisms or challenges, play dodge ball. Don't answer; don't take it to heart. Change the conversation onto something wholesome and out there. Diverting conversations is one of the most excellent strategies to use with relatives; they never figure out that you are doing it. Put yourself mentally, at those times, into a God-bubble; remind yourself that your "being" and "actions" bring Him great delight, and that He knows your good motives for the choices of your own lifestyle. You will stand before Him alone at the great bar.
Five: If someone is mean-spirited toward you, operate in the opposite spirit. Unhook from the last remark and serve them tea. :)
Six: Get away, out of the room, for one-minute vacations.
Seven: Look for shortcuts for everything: only changing pillowcases instead of the sheets, preparing more quickly prepared foods, etc., and delegate as much as possible to your company. This occupies them productively, gets their attention off from you, makes them feel useful, and lightens your own load. It is enough to think up the order of the day; you don't have to do the day, too. Administration takes mental energy—don't forget that. You are the only one in the group who can do the administration. That is a job, in and of itself.
For further thoughts, order our eBooks, No Stress Holidays for Moms and Coping with Personally Induced Stress. Also, Why We Got Off the Christmas Bandwagon.