The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time of year, full of laughter and cheer, but sometimes things don’t turn out that way. If you’ve ever had to deal with holiday stress, you know what it’s like to have the family conflicts that come along with spending time together in close quarters. As much as you want to tell them how they upset you or make your feel, try these tips on how to deal with holiday stress before you do something you’ll regret later!
Set realistic expectations
It's important to set realistic expectations for yourself and your family. To that end, we suggest you ask yourself two questions before you head into an emotionally charged situation. First, what do I want out of this experience? Second, what are my non-negotiables? If your goal is simply to spend time with a loved one who lives far away and avoid a full-blown fight at all costs, it would be wise to take some time apart so that you're not constantly butting heads.
Communicate early and often
Holiday gatherings can be stressful, but they don't have to be. If you're hosting a dinner or party this year, it might help to communicate early and often with your guests about what food preferences they have and any other considerations that could make it easier for them. You should also spend some time thinking about how you'll manage guests who are vegan or vegetarian, as well as those who cannot eat gluten or dairy products.
Keep your cool
Holiday time can be stressful for many people. The weather, crowds, and expectations can put a lot of pressure on you. But if you're at odds with your family members, it can make it even worse. So what's the best way to stay calm in these tough times? Here are five tips that will help you avoid an argument and maintain a peaceful demeanor:
1) Avoid talking about sensitive subjects such as politics or religion.
2) Listen respectfully when your relatives voice their opinions.
3) Try not to compare yourself or anyone else to others
4) Find common ground by asking questions about their favorite things.
5) Keep your sense of humor!
It may feel like you have to suck it up this time around but in the end, you'll have happy memories from spending quality time with loved ones.
Don't forget to have fun!
It's easy to get caught up in your own head, and be frustrated when things don't go as planned. But it's important not to forget that you're spending time with people you love and care about, so try not to let anything ruin your mood! Take some deep breaths and remind yourself of why you wanted to spend this time with them in the first place.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by everything going on around you, give yourself a break by getting away for a few minutes and do something for yourself (take a bath, grab some tea or coffee). You deserve to feel relaxed too! It's really helpful to check in of where you are emotionally before participating on an activity- if you're starting off tired or anxious, chances are you may need more breaks and recharge time.
Give yourself permission to take a step back from whatever may be happening and take care of your needs before they become overwhelming. Maintaining a healthy level of emotional self-regulation will help you avoid getting into conflicts with your loved ones this holiday season.
So, whenever you are ready to take a step and dive into therapy, Blue Oak Counseling and our team of licensed therapists are here to support you.