The holidays are supposed the time of the year that families can come together and enjoy one another’s company. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. In fact, after spending dozens of days together and sharing meals and bathrooms the holidays can feel like they drive us further apart.
This holiday season, be prepared for those dreaded family interactions and find out how to survive the holiday season relatively scar-free.
Don’t expect people to change
The best way to set yourself up for unrealistic expectations is by expecting your family to change. Chances are if you disagreed with Uncle Greg’s politics last Thanksgiving, you’ll still disagree this year. And if you spent all of New Year’s Eve dodging Grandma’s questions about when you’re going to bring home a nice boy, she is probably going to revisit the topic this year.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is accept people for who they are. You don’t have to agree with everything your family says or does, but understanding that you’re never going to change them (and they’re never going to change you) is the first step.
Prepare your responses in advance
You know the questions your family is going to pelt you with when you come home. Picking a major, finding a job, getting a boyfriend or girlfriend, and starting a family are probably all hot topics for discussion when you see family.
Just like you would study for an exam in school, practice your answers to these questions in advance to help take some of the stress out of the situation.
Giving yourself some extra time to think of answers in advance can also give you an opportunity to think of what you really want to say. Rather than stumbling through a response about why you’re still undeclared in school, make sure Cousin Jenny knows that you like taking your time making important decisions and that you’re enjoying having the opportunity to explore possible career paths.
Have a friend on standby
If you know things are really going to get messy, let a friend know that family is coming into town and that you might need some backup.
Let your friend know in advance that you may need to shoot them a few texts in order to detox from family overload. If you’re really close with your friend (and your family is willing), you might even consider inviting them over for dessert or going to their house, instead. This will give you some time to get out of the hot seat and really enjoy your holiday.
Schedule some me-time
After a hectic day, we all need a little time for ourselves. It’s okay to schedule some alone time into a family-filled holiday. If your family is staying for a long weekend over Thanksgiving, give yourself a break by going Black Friday shopping with friends or catching a movie when the theatres are empty after dinner on Thanksgiving Day.
If you really can’t get away, try to get a few moments when you can go to your room and breathe. Take some time to lie on your bed and journal before going to sleep or treat yourself with some fancy body scrubs during your shower. Doing something small for yourself can make a huge difference when you’re feeling overwhelmed or drained.
It’s important to remember that even though the holidays can be stressful, enjoying them is what the season is all about. After prepping your answers and scheduling some time to unwind, remember to take some time to enjoy time with family and friends and indulge in delicious food.