The holidays are can be a beautiful time for family, goodwill and cheer, but for some of us, prolonged family time is not such a joyful and easy experience. Enduring passive agressive comments, arguments, drunken brawls or sheer insanity can be more familiar to some. The expectations given to us holiday marketing tools can make us feel like our family’s dysfunction makes us unusual, but understand, you are not alone at this time. I wanted to share with you some of our tried and true family survival tricks.
Nervous and dreading the holidays? Talk about it with friends or a therapist, spend some time relaxing before hand, set up loose plans to make your time there more manageable (becoming aware of triggers and coping skills, setting boundaries, finding comfortable subjects to discuss, setting time limits for certain interactions). And don't forget to go with eyes wide open, we set ourselves up for disappointment when we allow our expectations to govern our contentment.
Invited to a family friend’s holiday party where you don’t know anyone yet? For those of us sober, or not, try helping out. Setting the table, making the food or washing the dishes can be a great way to feel included, but with less pressure of awkward small talk.
Grandpa is rambling on about his “political” views? Try taking a break. A bathroom, smoke or a breath of fresh air are my go-tos. Calling a friend is also a great one.
Nosy aunt asking passive agressive questions about your personal life? Take deep breaths, focusing on your breath and turn attention to different parts of your body. It’s a great time to explore what your hands really feel like from the inside.
Your brother’s children have been running around on a 5 hour sugar high? Aromatherapy. I love little rollerball applicators I keep in my purse.
Here are some brands we’ve tried and love:
Have no plans or unable to see family and feeling alone? Volunteer or try planning out a day for doing things that you love with friends or by yourself.
Your family’s mind boggling behavior bringing up old resentments? Try pretending that these are just human beings that you are not related to at all, and practice feeling unattached to their actions and perhaps find some humor in it all.
Exhausted after a tedious encounter with family members? Recharge with a date with people you have less complicated relationships with.
Remember take time for yourself this season, give yourself love and care. Compassion for yourself yields compassion for others.
- You’re not alone.
- You don’t have to stay anywhere where you are uncomfortable.
- You are loved(and it is not contingent on anything!) and you still deserve love and respect although you may not get it.
- You are allowed to have boundaries and enforcing them does not make you anything other than the strong amazing person you already are.
- A moment of patience in a moment of anger saves you a hundred moments of regret.