For most of us the holiday season is an exciting time of the year. You go to more parties and school activities and socialize more than you do any other time of the year. You may be the jolliest person at work or the life of the party, but for some people that all ends when they go home and celebrate with their family. Whether its unresolved childhood memories or continuous petty drama, it can cause stress and make you wish you’d never made the trip.
You may suffer in silence and tell yourself that it’s part of the holidays. Well, it’s really not and having a plan or a different approach can help you enjoy your trip home rather than dread the drama you’re certain will be waiting for you. Here are five tactics that work:
See reality as it is and quit expecting people to change. If Aunt Harriet was a bully last year, she’ll be one this year. If your brother always criticizes you about your job, kids, or weight, don’t expect him to be sensitive this year. When others treat you badly or put you down, it’s a desperate attempt to put themselves higher. See it for what it is and don’t give them your energy by reacting with anger or put downs.
Make a commitment to yourself to avoid negative conversations and walk away. You can’t get dragged into drama if you walk away. Decide to be a source of inspiration and keep your conversations fun. Ask different family members about their best holiday memory or what they’re most grateful for. Stay away from politics and gossip.
Go outside. Nature is restorative and helps calm the body. A long walk outside can enhance conversations and offer a chance to be alone. Too much togetherness isn’t healthy, and it’s especially not healthy if you’re family has drama.
Have a self-care plan in place. If your family does things that drive you crazy, have a backup plan. It’s okay to say no and avoid activities that leave you feeling overwhelmed and/or resentful.
You cannot control others, but you can control yourself. Use calming techniques, such as meditation and prayer, when you feel stressed. You know your triggers; instead of reacting, stop, clear your head, and breathe. Merry Christmas!