1. Plan Accordingly
Frequently new couples and families end up bickering on where to spend the holidays. This can be avoided by planning in advance where and who you’re going to spend the holiday season with. Sit down and have a discussion to ready yourselves so that when the time comes extended families are prepared and will not get upset about who is not showing up for the annual holiday dinner. A great solution is to take turns attending holiday events; one year with one family and the next year with another if you can’t do both in one holiday season.
2. Reduce Your Stressors & Unplug from the World
Outside stressors such as traveling and work can exacerbate the anxiety you feel around visiting family leading you to have less patience and potentially blowing up on those around you. Learning how to avoid stressors and tune out from the rest of the world can help you focus on enjoying your time with your family more. Leave work for after holiday break and turn your cell phone off. Be attentive to who is in front of you and make some loving memories.
3. Know When to Leave
There are very few of us who have picture perfect families and being around our more troublesome family members can trigger issues or negative interactions. Your best bet if you’re not ready to hash out family drama is to just enjoy yourself and know when things are beyond your control. Understand when it’s time for you to go before things start going south and leave you emotionally exposed.
4. You Can Only Control You
To bounce off of point number three, learning to accept your family members for who they are is half the battle while the other is knowing that you can only control your responses to your loved ones upsetting behavior. Yes your emotionally draining mother and critical father can push your buttons but it’s your job, not theirs, to set boundaries with them and respond in a way that is cool calm and collected while also letting them know it’s not OK to do.
5. Have an Attitude of Gratitude
Last but not least, regardless of your circumstances with your family, the holiday season is about gratitude; be thankful from where you came. Your family, all of the good, bad, ugly, and unmentionable is what made you out to be the person you are today. Find and be thankful for all the good and resilient qualities you and your family have now because of what you’ve been through with each other.
All in all the holidays are difficult in more ways than one. If you tend to struggle during this time of year and need extra support contact the therapists of Philadelphia MFT for a free 15 minute consultation that can help you sort out if therapy is right for your particular case. We are here to support and strengthen you during trying times. Travel safe and have a Happy Thanksgiving and Hanukkah!
This topic of the week was written by Alanna Gardner, MFT