As the holiday season draws near, so do the stressful encounters with family! Here are some tips for making it through with your holiday spirit intact.
1. Remind yourself that people are under more pressure and are going to be harder to get along with on special days.
2. If you choose to speak up—and “rocking the boat” is NOT a bad thing—use an “I message.” Example: Mom, I feel hurt when you criticize my cooking.
3. Try to have those “I message” conversations privately and directly with the person who has offended you. Avoid the words “always” and “never.” After all, no one is ALWAYS guilty of something!
4. Avoid being drawn into family triangles. A triangle is where people discuss another family member behind their back. It may feel good to be included, but it almost always comes back to haunt you later when you indulge in gossip. If someone attempts to draw you in, excuse yourself and invent an urgent gravy emergency.
5. If the dinner is at your house, you have the right to set all rules and boundaries, such as no alcohol, no smoking inside, etc. Be polite but firm. The rules are always the choice of the host/hostess: the guest’s choice is whether or not to attend.
6. Get outside for a walk, or at least a deep breath of fresh air. Remind yourself that it’s only one day. Promise yourself a relaxing treat later (such as a hot bath, TV show, good book). This will help manage your depression or anxiety.
7. Try to look past the person’s irritating manner to the wounds that cause the actions. This does not mean you don’t speak up, it simply means you speak up calmly.
8. Thank your hostess profusely. You have no idea how much time and effort it takes unless you’ve done it yourself!
9. Spend some time being thankful and enjoying the people you love.
10. Never skip our appointments during the holiday season, no matter how busy you are. Like sleep and exercise, your sessions are essential to keeping you in balance and moving forward.