Navigating the Holidays When You Have Frustrating Family Members

The holidays are supposed to be a time to come together with your loved ones and celebrate the joyful spirit of the season. But if you don’t always get along with your family, you may not be feeling very cheerful or celebratory. Maybe you’ve gotten into arguments with certain relatives because of your opposing beliefs. Or maybe you’re tired of your relatives bugging you about whether or not you’ve reached certain life milestones. You’ve wondered if you really need to spend time with some relatives during the holidays at all—but you simply can’t get out of going to every event.

Instead of avoiding your relatives, you’ll need a strategy for dealing with these situations in a healthy way. Here’s how to navigate frustrating family events throughout the holiday season.

Adjust Your Mindset

First, make an effort to adjust your mindset. Avoid setting your expectations too high or too low. Part of you might pin your hopes on the idea that you’ll suddenly start getting along with your relatives this year, but if this doesn’t happen, you could be let down. Another part of you might anticipate getting into conflicts at holiday parties—but expecting the worst can exacerbate your anxiety and make you feel defensive before you even see your relatives. Instead, adopt a neutral mindset. Commit to maintaining your calm no matter what, and release any positive or negative expectations for the event.

Be Selective in Your Commitments

You may not be able to hide out at home and avoid all of the holiday gatherings with your extended family. But do you necessarily have to attend every single one? Think about the upcoming events on your family’s calendar, and consider if you could turn down invitations to a couple without ruffling too many feathers. If you tend to work long hours around the holidays, or if you live far away from your extended family anyway, you may already have built-in, acceptable excuses that most people won’t question. You have every right to preserve your energy and mental health by being choosy about your commitments.

Avoid Certain Conversation Topics

Maybe you generally get along with most of your relatives—until the conversation turns to a touchy topic, and suddenly, you find yourself feeling like the black sheep of the group. For example, you might disagree with your family on politics, religion, or another sensitive issue. You can always excuse yourself from these conversations, or politely shift the discussion to another topic. It’s only natural that you want to stand up for yourself and what you believe is right. But consider that people are unlikely to be persuaded from their beliefs during a holiday party debate.

Use Your Downtime for Self-Care

It can be tough to find downtime during the holiday season. But when you have a day to yourself, use it to fully relax and recharge. If you are constantly running around, working up the energy to deal with tense family gatherings can be harder. Choose a few seasonal self-care activities, like sipping hot chocolate while watching cheesy holiday movies, so you can unwind.

Find Someone to Lean On

It’s normal to feel like you have to blow off steam during the holidays! Sometimes, you just need to vent about your relatives. Perhaps you have another family member who shares your struggles, and you can have a heart-to-heart. If you don’t, talking to a therapist might be a better choice.

Are you struggling to deal with difficult family relationships during the holidays? Talking to a therapist can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first therapy for women session.