The holidays are supposed to be a time of good cheer and bliss. But, as we all know, this time of year can also be very stressful. For some people, it can even be overwhelming. If you have conflict with your family, the holiday season can be especially frustrating. Memories of bad holidays from your childhood come to the surface, you find yourself in the same room with relatives you avoid all year, and emotional pain bubbles up.
Here are some tips for how to handle painful elements in your family this holiday season.
Sometimes an unexpected encounter with a family member or not knowing how long you have to spend at Christmas dinner can bring about anxiety. Have a plan for how long you will stay at events and create an exit strategy in advance. Drive yourself so you can leave when you need to. Also prepare mentally for how you will deal with difficult family members or the holiday conflict. Come up with some responses in your mind to questions that make you uncomfortable – when are ready to handle pointed questions it might be easier to stay calm and stop an argument from happening.
Make Necessary Adjustments
If being around certain family members is just too painful right now, give yourself permission to make changes to your regular holiday routine. Avoiding issues won’t make them go away, but at the same time it might be necessary to cut a three night stay at your parent’s home to one night only. Or, if you don’t feel comfortable having everyone to your own home, ask your sister to host this year.
Take Care of Yourself
Remember to take care of yourself this time of year. Holiday conflict with family cut deep, and if seeing people at the holidays reignites past hurt, don’t hesitate to see a counselor or give yourself other self care. Meditation, a day at the spa, or a second Christmas with close friends are all ways to treat yourself and balance the negative emotions that bubble up.
For many people, holiday time and family can be very painful or uncomfortable. If you are facing the holiday conflict with your family, know that you are not alone. Better yet, give Estes Therapy a call and we can help you win the battle with your integrity in tact.
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653