Are you dreading the holidays? Worried about how to survive being surrounded by family and dealing with conflicts? While this time of year can be filled with joy and laughter, it can also trigger old family patterns and cause emotional distress. Here are 5 things you can do to survive this potentially difficult time:
1. Know what you are getting yourself into, and plan accordingly. For example, if you can’t stand your mother-in-law, but must travel to be there for the holidays, consider staying in a hotel rather than at her house. Or, make the trip just a few days instead of an entire week.
2. Have realistic expectations. If your sister is always a drama queen and a narcissist, don’t expect this time to be any different. Rather, be prepared for it, and choose not to be reactive as you have probably done in the past. If she doesn’t get attention for acting this way, she will stop (maybe).
3. Set clear and firm boundaries. If your mother is always interfering with your child rearing, for example, let her know ahead of time that she may not make comments about your parenting. Let her know that if she does, you will gather your family and simply leave. And then follow through.
4. You don’t have to spend every minute of every day together. Do your own thing for some of the time. Go do something you enjoy, whether it’s shopping, a movie, taking a walk. Get away from everyone and the stress they may be causing you. That way, you are more likely to enjoy the time when you are together.
5. Laugh a lot. Don’t take every single thing so seriously. Joke around about things as much as possible and let more of other people’s annoying habits roll off. So when mom starts telling you how to raise your children, just ask her how may weeks she would like them to stay with her next summer so she can fix them. And then plan a vacation.
Most importantly…HAVE SOME FUN! Do whatever it takes to take care of yourself and find some ways to make it fun. Otherwise, what’s the point?