holidays with family

Gearing Up to Spend the Holidays with Difficult Relatives

The holidays are here, which means you’ll likely be spending more time with family over the next month or so. This may be causing you stress, especially if you don’t get along with your family members, or you struggle with depression or anxiety heightened by time spent with family. This does not mean that you don’t love your family or want to be with them, but these dynamics do make things more difficult. 

Fortunately, there are techniques you can use to help make the holidays more enjoyable. Below are some tips for dealing with difficult relatives this holiday season. Don’t forget – you can also receive support in a number of ways, such as by booking a session with a life coach in Los Angeles. 

Manage Your Expectations 

Having expectations for how the holidays should look can set you up for disappointment. You know your family, so set realistic expectations for them. As nice as it would be to not have Aunt Sue criticize your outfit or Uncle Dave talk about politics, you can’t control this from happening. What you can do is adjust your expectations and create outlets for your emotions. You can always excuse yourself from a conversation, take a break outside or spend more time playing with the kids. 

Reduce Time Spent in One Place 

If you usually go to a family member’s house for Thanksgiving or Christmas, think about switching things up this year. You can shorten the time you spend at their house by driving separately or having alternative plans. For example, now might be a great time to start a new tradition, such as by volunteering your time at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Or, you may choose to have dinner with your family and dessert with a friend. 

Develop a Healthier Attitude 

If you already know that your holiday will be stressful, start getting into a more positive mindset. Stressing days or weeks in advance doesn’t do anything to help the situation. Instead, put this energy into healthy behaviors like yoga, meditation or music. 

To change your perspective, also think about the good in your family and the qualities you like about them. This can help you look at them differently and take their comments less to heart. Finding common ground is also helpful. What are some ‘safe’ topics you can talk about? 

Create and Keep Boundaries 

Boundaries are important because they tell people what is okay and what is not. It can be hard to enforce boundaries with family, but it’s essential to healthy relationships. If a politically charged family member wants to discuss the recent elections, for example, you can simply say, “I’m not interested in discussing this today,” and walk away. You might get a look, but it clearly shows your boundaries. 

Practice Self-Care

The holidays are stressful, so take time to care for yourself. This will make it easier to make healthy choices, and have the energy to deal with difficult family members. Practicing self-care also prevents you from burning out over the holidays. Between shopping, cooking, gift wrapping, traveling and more, it’s easy to burn out during these six weeks. 

Schedule a Life Coaching Session 

When it comes to spending the holidays with your family, remember that the only control you have is over yourself. This means that you can choose how you want to respond. By practicing the tips above, you can get the most out of the holiday season without draining yourself of patience, tolerance and energy. And if you need some help along the way, book a life coaching session with Jack Rourke.