The holidays can be a mental disaster. I know the feeling of dreading going home or to certain family’s homes because you want to avoid the drama. I know the feeling of sitting on eggshells to avoid the crazy talk and the food fight that could erupt at any moment. But, it doesn’t have to be that way! You can enjoy the holidays (and your family) and come out with your mind intact. In today’s post, I share some tips to get through the holiday season in one piece.
Let’s face it there is always that one family member that you just don’t agree with. There is that member that pushes your buttons, gets on your very last nerve, and purposely drops sly comments to get a rise out of you. But this same family member gets invited to the table every year because they are family. Unfortunately, we cannot avoid our family’s dysfunction but we can protect ourselves mentally. Here’s how to get through the holidays without giving your gritty family members the satisfaction of your soul.
Avoid the political talk
Don’t do it to yourself. Don’t even think to bring up the election, the results, or whatever you saw on the news last week. There is always that one family member who is willfully ignorant that you will disagree with. The holidays are not the time to educate or convert any non-believers. It’s a time to enjoy the presence of life and each other corks and all.
Develop tough skin
There is always that one family member who likes to pick. They bring up stuff from when you were like five years old and talks about it as if it happened yesterday. You have to have tough skin and let it roll off your shoulders. Don’t let them know that it bothers you and don’t be petty. Simply walk away with no response, they’ll eventually catch the shade. Or, get some kudos points for just laughing it off too and then later use “I” statements to express why it bothers you.
Know your opponents (not to say families are opponents)
You have spent many holidays with these folks. You probably even spent birthdays, sleepovers, and vacations with them too. It should be easy by this point to know which family members are up for some mess. Recognize which members bring the drama and try to maneuver around them like they had the plague. It’s okay to be pleasant with casual conversation, but it’s best to avoid the personal deep stuff. Be sure to ignore the button pushers and learn to redirect whenever you can. Or even better predict what these family members would say or do. When people are predictable your are not caught off guard and it doesn’t bother you as much.
Give them a little something
Plan ahead the things you are okay with talking about. Think about your accomplishments this year, happy moments you’d like to share, and good things going on. Focus on the things you are comfortable speaking about. You can give a little bit of information here without giving a great bit of detail. Focusing on the positives keeps things lighthearted and fun.
Just Breathe (it’ll be over before you know it)
Remember that this is a temporary moment. The holidays don’t last forever, it’s only a few days of the year. So take a deep breath and know that’ll it’ll be over soon enough. In the meantime, find the things that you enjoy. My favorite part is the music and the smells (pine and cranberry do it for me). Maybe you enjoy that food, whatever it maybe focus on that and just breathe. You can also take some awesome self-care items with your like coloring pages, chocolate, and bubbles. Bring whatever you need to get your zen back!
Leave the Past in the Past
There are some things that are better left where they are. No need to bring up the past. No need to bring up pain at this time. It’s not the time for reconciliation though you’ll be in your feels. This is not the time to bring up buried hatchets. And though it’s not the time to bring up the past, that doesn’t mean those things should be ignored. It just means that you should finish that business on another date. Remember to enjoy the presence of your people at this time. If anyone brings up the past, run like the wind. Or just simply walk away… hurt people hurt people so reduce your chances of being hurt and focus on the point of being together.
If you must defend yourself use “I Statements!”
If all else fails and you must engage in the banter, use “I” statements. These statements make people less defensive and redirect the discussion towards emotions. It’s a lot easier to say “I am angry with the way you talk about me” or “It hurts my feelings when you tell that particular story.” It’s quick, straight to the point, and leaves nothing to the imagination. You don’t have to say much after the statement either.
Limit your time
Remember if it brings you too much despair, you don’t have to subject yourself to it. It’s okay to start and make your own traditions. If anything you can limit your time and go for a couple of hours. Have no guilt about whatever your choice may be. You have to do what’s best for your mentality.
The holidays is a time for joy and happiness. However, some families are just not able to get through peacefully. Sure sitting home making your own traditions might be easier, but most people don’t feel as though they have that option. So what do you think of my list? Would you add anything to help you get through the holidays? Share in the comments below.
until next time…