So, it’s that time of the year. It’s only the first week of November and the coffee shops have already switched from Halloween themed music to Christmas songs… like… why can they never just wait until after Thanksgiving? Seriously…
Anyway, with the colder weather and changing of the season come the holidays, which means quality time spent with family. While this can be a happy time for many of us, oftentimes seeing family can activate old wounds and things can get under our skin in ways other loved ones don’t have the power to do. With that in mind, here are some ideas on how to manage stress with loved ones and family over the holiday season.
Also, it should go without saying that we all have different family dynamics and this list is subjective and should be used at your own discretion depending on how applicable it is to your situation.
- Prepare yourself mentally
Depending on how stressful your family gatherings are, you may need to take a deep breath before the plunge. Maybe it’s having a day off by yourself with some blueberry donut flavored Leaner Creamer and coffee so that you can limit your stress level before festivities begin. Maybe it means meditating or using a mantra before you see family members you have more contentious relationships with. Regardless of what it is, find the thing that puts you in the best headspace for dealing with a rocky couple of days.
- Don’t get too tired, too hungry, or too lonely
This is a simple psychological trick that can do wonders for not slipping into bad habits and protecting yourself from adverse experiences. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, that you aren’t skipping meals, and that you have access to your social supports who nourish you emotionally if you anticipate having a rough time at your holiday family gatherings.
Many of us have relatives we disagree with, and often those disagreements can be so well trod and overdone that they almost feel dull and rehearsed. Sometimes you have to ask yourself if getting into an argument with your aunt with different political views is really worth it if nobody’s mind is going to change and you’re both just going to walk away angry. It is said that discretion is the better part of valor and sometimes the best way to keep the peace might be to just bite your tongue.
- Make peace with things if you can
Once again this is very subjective. We all have different relationships with our families and none of us have had perfect upbringings. Maybe this applies and maybe this doesn’t. But at the end of the day, we are all just people, imperfect and flawed, who don’t have all the answers and who invariably stumble and make mistakes. Oftentimes forgiveness can be a selfish act, because it can release us from the angry feelings we harbor that drag us down. If this resonates with you and offers any kind of perspective in dealing with dysfunctional family members, maybe that can give you a bit of solace as you make it through the holidays this year.