Brain Waves…Guests of the House

by Debra Rose

Boat owners often say their two happiest days are the day they buy a boat and the day they sell it. If you have a house out east and host guests for part of the summer, that feeling may resonate the day you invite them and the day they depart.

Buyer’s Remorse: Is the idea of hosting better than the actual event? Everyone is excited about planning and looks forward to gathering, perhaps without considering what the expectations are for all individuals involved.  Finally getting together is initially rewarding, until everyone’s habits are scrambled.

Location, Location, Location: Having a home in a desirable locale will inevitably prompt close and distant friends and family to expect and request an invitation.  Staying in confined quarters can create quality time as much as potential conflict.  The rules of behavior become taxing when everyone must play nice for the duration of the visit, for the sake of keeping the peace.  Being ‘on’ always can be playful and also the most exhausting aspect of getting together under one roof.

Particularly stressed are introverts (the guest or the host) that need a certain amount of alone time and privacy to recharge.  The threshold of neatness, activity level, sleeping habits, meal expectations, neediness for together time and overall conduct are all thrown together when guests visit, typically without ground rules. Visitors are walking the fine line of being a ‘guest’ and staying in their lane to not disrupt the family routine while still pitching in to join it.  Suddenly hosting morphs into running a bed and breakfast, and everyone must be diplomatic and polite most or all the time.

Your Brain on Guests: Typically, everyone sighs with relief and underlying tension surfaces when the visit concludes.  Our brains release cortisol, the stress hormone when our space feels invaded.  Know what your own routines are whether you are the guest or the host and communicate before the arrival.  Manage expectations about how time together is going to look, as guests are dropping in to vacation while the hosts living their daily life may not be in lounge mode just yet.

Intentions are admirable; guests want to be invited back and hosts want to make their company feel welcome.  The energy required for this to succeed can recede into passive aggressive behaviors if reading the room, taking social cues from one another, and having awareness of the environment are overlooked.

While hosts have visitors to add joy to their routines, the stress generated traces back to those very routines being interrupted.

Primitive instincts kick in when food and resources are consumed, messes are created, personal spaces are invaded tangibly and psychologically.  Guests may get defensive since they are…invited guests, and hosts are sometimes confused by their own reaction to visitors.

Our home is the foundation of our most human values and instincts.  Needing one to survive, striving for the right one, creating our space to reflect ourselves, and using it as a shelter from the world and other people are universal.  Extending an invitation and planning a visit is delightful, almost as much as parting ways upon departure.  Most victorious of all, keeping it short and sweet!