How To Survive Your Difficult Relatives This Holiday Season
It’s that time of year again when we all get together and have dinner and exchange presents and be all merry and stuff. Or is it? Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, but I could easily do without the drama of some scrooges… I mean relatives!
The holidays can be filled with unrealistic family expectations. The cute holiday movies where everyone gets along and is happy together, isn’t always a reality.
My family get-togethers have often ended in fights, tears and even major falling outs that have yet to be resolved. Sometimes distance is what is necessary. Now, we have separate dinners for some that I can no longer tolerate and others I have learned to manage the stress and anxiety in a healthy way.
If your family holiday dinners are less than perfect, I understand. But, I hope they are at least civil.
Maybe you have an aunt who speaks her mind a little too much. Or, a sister in law that pushes her latest products on you. Maybe your father in law drinks a bit too much.
Does someone say things to you to push your buttons? Remember, it’s not you. It’s them.
Whatever the case may be, holiday dinners might bring up some stress and anxiety in you. I’ve tried to come up with a few tips to help you survive the holidays with your less than wonderful relatives.
Tips To Survive Difficult Family During The Holidays
Realize that the holidays have unreasonable expectations. We’ve been bombarded with messages that the holidays should be wonderful, and everything should be just right. Few families actually have this experience. The holidays are stressful for most families. Realize that your situation might be much more typical than you think.
The issues your family has the other 11 months of the year won’t just evaporate for the holidays. Relationships have inertia. They don’t change easily.
Have a game plan. Know which people and situations are likely to upset you. Attempt to avoid those situations and people whenever possible. Think about how you’ll deal with any negative emotions that you experience.
- Call a friend.
- Go for a walk.
- Go out for coffee.
- Listen to music.
Pamper yourself afterwards. A makeover, massage, short vacation, or a nice purchase is a way of being good to yourself after a tiring holiday season with the family.
Play it cool. Imagine you’re a forest monk sitting on a platform in the trees. Your job is to stay as serene as possible. No matter what your family throws at you, you resolve to maintain your composure.
Let go of the past. If you don’t have any long-standing negative feelings toward anyone in your family, you’re in the minority. A few parents are great. A few stink. Most of us had mediocre parents. There’s nothing you can do about the past. You can either continue to be tormented by it or let it go. The choice is yours.
Invite a friend along. Visiting your parents in your hometown? Invite an old friend over for dinner. You have the benefit of moral support, and your family will be less likely to misbehave around company.
Set and achieve a couple of easy goals. You might take your car to the carwash and balance your checkbook. Getting a few constructive things accomplished will enhance your mood and keep your emotions on track.
Stay physically active. The local health club has a daily membership plan. Use it. Or go for a jog. Even a walk can provide and emotional break and sooth your nerves. Go out and do a few pushups under a tree in the back yard.
Beware of self-medicating. A single drink might not be a bad idea, but four could prove to be your undoing. Keep those old pain-killer prescriptions in the medicine cabinet. You don’t need them!
Take the high road. If someone is trying to get your goat, don’t let them have it. Avoid feeling the need to stick up for yourself. Just move on to another conversation partner or another topic. Once someone responds emotionally, the entire interaction is bound to take an ugly turn. Value your sanity more than your pride.
Hopefully, the holidays are an enjoyable time to be spent with the family. Unfortunately, holidays spent with family are often stressful. Temper your expectations. Your interactions with your family don’t improve during the holidays. Plan ahead and have a few temporary escapes planned. Rely on your friends to help you through this time.
Reach out to old friends and stay physically active. Accomplishing a few small goals each day can lift your mood and your resistance to negative family members.