The holidays are fast approaching. Warm fires, yummy pies, comfort food, long-held traditions. These are the things that so many of us look forward to and enjoy about Thanksgiving and Christmas. But there are also those of us who dread the holidays. For some, the holidays mean facing some messy family drama. As a society, I think we like to assume that the holidays mean cozy families huddled around a table in a room full of laughter. The truth is, for many of us, the scene is much different. There’s conflict, broken relationships, deep-rooted hurts, etc. Stress clouds the joy. For some, it’s more about survival than it is celebration. Here are 5 tips to help you survive the family drama this year:
You know yourself best, reflect on what you need
It’s easy to put everyone else’s needs before our own. But sometimes, you need to take a step back and think about what you yourself need in order to reduce the stress that always seems to be a part of your holiday package.
Set healthy boundaries
If you’re constantly feeling the weight of certain expectations, maybe it’s time to reevaluate (or create for the first time) some healthier interpersonal boundaries.
Be aware of toxic environments and people
Know what people and environments are unhealthy for you and do what you can to spend minimum time in or around them. Sometimes holidays mean there’s no avoiding these places or people. So, beforehand, talk with someone you can trust and feel safe around about what you’re feeling and ask for their support.
Take a break
When things get too intense or overwhelming, have a game plan for a “time-out.” Find a quiet space where you can do some deep breathing exercises, and maybe even spend a few moments in prayer.
Gear up for the drama
When we begin to get anxious about upcoming stressful family situations we tend to lose sight on maintaining healthy eating, sleeping, and drinking habits, which in turn negatively affects our stress levels even more. Keep this in mind as you approach the holidays and focus on eating healthy in between celebrations, getting good rest (which may mean implementing some relaxation strategies), and staying hydrated (with water, not booze). Though you may want to cope with family stress with a glass of wine (or two) it won’t be helpful in the long run and may lead to more serious issues.
Dealing with heightened family drama during the holidays is never easy. We recommend that you don’t go at it alone. Confide in your spouse, a close friend, or even a therapist. These people can support and encourage you, while also giving you a healthy outlet to talk about all the messy feelings that come along with dealing with difficult situations and/or people. We hope that you might be able to use some of these tips to experience a little less stress and a little more joy this holiday season. Keep a lookout for our December blog about finding peace and joy in the midst of the crazy Christmastime bustle.