Ways to handle challenging family at the holidays

The holiday season is approaching us at what feels like supersonic speed. The holidays can induce many kinds of feelings for everyone. When I was younger, I loved the holidays because they were filled with joy and visiting with family. As I have gotten older the holidays are not as exciting as they once were. It may have something to do with the way holidays were the past two years or the dread of challenging family and friends. It is only natural to not always agree with our family because everyone has their opinions and that does not always line up with our family.

In this post, I am going to share with you a few ways that may help with the anxiety of family, friends, COVID, travel, and anything else that could be weighing on our minds. Family is important and we do not get to choose our family is but should try to eliminate any potential arguments that might come to the surface. We only have one family, so making the most of it is the best option.

1. Take control of your expectations: Many times, keeping expectations low helps avoid disappointment or resentment. Consider what your expectations are for those you feel the least comfortable with. Start by trying to observe others and not reacting at the moment. If we try changing others instead of accepting them it can create higher levels of defensiveness and reluctance. If at any moment your emotions become overloaded, excuse yourself and walk away for a few minutes for a short break to release those negative emotions. I have always found it to be easier to walk away when tensions become too high, and a conversation goes in a circle without an end in sight.

2. Plan ahead of time: Remember past family holidays and any patterns that occurred. Expect that unhealthy patterns are going to occur again and have a plan in place to avoid or prevent them from controlling and ruining your holiday.

3. Modify your mindset: We can decide to worry about things that could happen, which will cause unnecessary or think ahead of time how to reduce this type of stress. Instead of getting caught up in the negative traits of family, recall and focus on the positive traits, our family members have in them.

4. Defend your truth and integrity: A family holiday get-together can cause people to feel like they are walking on eggshells. There are several ways to navigate the circumstance when we know what our reactions will be and how others will react. A few standards to engage in during stressful exchanges are to state your experience, defend your truths, and calm yourself. It may be helpful to make note of your emotions, reiterate the faces, and appreciate your peace.

5. Discover common ground: The holidays provide joys of family get-togethers and create fond memories to admire. However, holidays can also include disputes with family. Regardless of those difficult family members, it is more important to focus on what matters the most instead of insignificant matters. It can be hard to find common ground, so try being slow to speak and quick to listen. You can gain more from listening than jumping in to say what you are thinking.

6. Avoid situations and people when possible: We all have at least one family member that wants to invade into our business, questions our every decision, and reminds us of the negative things in our life. Often, this is because misery loves company. The three most important things to remember are: you know more than anyone else what is best for you. Hold onto advice offered that is valuable and kindly ignore what is not valuable. Warmly divert the conversation by asking questions about how they are doing. Alter the atmosphere with positive language and awareness of being together.

7. Keep yourself grounded: Although the holidays can be a delightful time spent with family, they can also generate anxiety especially when there is an exasperating family member. When dealing with this type of person, it is crucial to provide yourself with gentle self-care to help keep you grounded. Avoiding hot topics such as politics and religion that can cause disagreements will be important. When topics known to cause a difference of opinion being, changing the subject to a common interest will help deter the disagreement from getting out of hand.

8. Form and maintain boundaries: Understand what topics or behaviors are unacceptable or reasonably out of bounds and state them upfront, so there is no confusion or question. Some people will know ways to bait you into a conversation causing conflict, NEVER take the bait! Immediately put a hard stop to the conversation. Determine how much time you are going to spend with family and politely say your goodbyes when it is time.

9. Always be on the same page as your significant other: Be open and honest about concerns and expectations of holiday gatherings. Discuss openly ways to handle potential conflicts. Preparing ahead of time and remaining a united front will help control the stress. Determine a signal word to let your partner know you are ready to leave or when stress has increased too much and have an exit plan.

10. Know your mind and body: Keep alcohol intake to a low amount because it can create issues with logical decision-making and escalate emotions. When overdone, alcohol can increase stress and fatigue causing more opportunity for an argument to irrupt. Alcohol in moderation normally does not cause too many issues, but it is important to know your limitation. Trust your instincts and pace yourself with conversation as well.

Thank you for visiting my site today. I hope this information will be useful to you during the upcoming holidays. Not all families are incredibly close and there is friction in some. It is not always easy and not all the tips in this post will be helpful to everyone, so if there are other ideas you have that helped you and you are willing to share, please do. I hope you had a nice and safe weekend! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love, comfort, support, and MANY positive vibes!

Always, Alyssa

4 thoughts on “Ways to handle challenging family at the holidays

  1. The holidays can be a challenging and stressful time of year so thanks for the great advice. I think it’s a good time to reflect on the last year and a half and all we missed out on. I believe spending time with family and friends is top on the list. So, maybe this year we can put a little extra energy into creating our “picture perfect” holiday season. Ask yourself, what would you want that to look like and what can you do to make that happen?
    Now it’s a bit more interesting when you have one, two or more families you need to split your time between. Of course our own immediate family gatherings can be pretty predictable, however not always easy or pleasant for that matter. On the other hand our spouse’s family gathering can be a bit of a mystery. We never know who exactly will show up and/or how everyone will interact. I’m sure we all know who our favorite people are and the ones we’d like to avoid. That being said, why walk on eggshells? Why have your holiday ruined? Try avoiding the people you know are difficult and spend more time with the ones you want to be around. If a conflict arises walk away. We don’t have to choose to be a part of unpleasant conversations or stressful situations.
    Holidays are suppose to be a happy time of year. A time to give thanks for what we have and the people in our lives. Find the good in others rather than focusing on the negative. We are all flawed people in one way or another, but truly we have more good qualities to offer than most of us realize. Enjoy each other and try putting aside any differences that will interfere with the joy this time of year brings. Happy Holiday Season to All…
    All my Love & Support, Mom!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Holidays can be stressful, but it does not have to be. Knowing who the problem is with and finding a way to avoid that person is doable. I get along with pretty much everyone, but some takes A LOT more effort. Thank you for your comment!!

      Like

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