Avoid ‘extreme stress’ in relationships

Thanksgiving is usually a time of togetherness, but it can also be a time when tense conversations can happen at the dining room table.

From politics to personal questions about relationships to anxiousness about trying to impress family members, the holidays can also be stressful.

Emergency room Dr. Naomi Jean-Baptiste with Hope 4 Med warns that high anxiety can lead to symptoms similar to a heart attack or stroke, which can land people in the emergency room.

“When you really start getting angry, you start shaking, your heart starts racing, and your blood pressure can go up. Once you get really stressed and develop severe anxiety, or even a panic attack, those symptoms can often mimic other life-threatening situations,” Jean-Baptiste said.

She said those symptoms can show up in more ways than one.

“Some people can develop chest pain and think that they’re having a heart attack. Other people can develop numbness in other parts of their body and think that they’re having a stroke. We see those cases all the time in the emergency room,” Jean-Baptiste said.

The American Psychological Association says nearly a quarter of Americans feel “extreme stress” during the holidays.

Jean-Baptiste urges people not to engage in uncomfortable conversations. She recommends following this advice so that families can create long-lasting memories.

“You have your opinion; they have their opinions. Sometimes your opinions coincide, and sometimes they clash. But going into that experience knowing that you may disagree with the opinion of somebody else and it’s OK to disagree. If that person is very, very angry, please don’t meet them at that level of anger because that’s just going to make the conversation explode, honestly,” Jean-Baptiste said. “Stay calm and agree to disagree and if that family member or loved one continues pushing the envelope, then it’s always OK to just get up and walk away.”

She hopes families not only follow this advice on Thanksgiving Day but throughout the holiday season.

“So many of us have been apart for so long, really this holiday season, I hope that you guys are able to really form long-lasting memories that you’ll cherish forever,” she said.

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