Holidays are supposed to be a time of fun and enjoyment, especially with family But what do you do when family is what stresses you out the most? Whether it’s your family, your in-laws, or distant family that only shows up at the holidays, it’s time to take steps to reclaim your Holiday joy! Here are 5 ways to cope with difficult relatives during the holidays, and finally, enjoy yourself.
Let’s face it, we all have a difficult relative or two. The holiday season seems to bring out the awareness of these difficult relatives. As you venture off to attend family gatherings, you start to realize that there are just some relatives you’ll never see eye to eye with nor become “besties” with. While this is typical of extended family units, it doesn’t have to be a stressor. If you’re wondering how to cope with difficult relatives this holiday season so that you can enjoy this quality time with extended family, then continue reading for some tips to survive the holidays.
5 Ways to Cope with Difficult Relatives During the Holidays
1. Get Relaxed
If you’re already feeling anxious about attending this holiday event with your difficult relatives then you’re probably all tensed up. Prior to attending any holiday gathering that may put you in line to deal with a difficult family member, try to do something to get relaxed. This might be reading a book, taking a walk, or even doing self-guided meditation. I’m not touting alcohol as a crutch, but I do find that I enjoy an extra glass or two of wine at Thanksgiving. Simply do something that helps you relax before you walk into that door to visit with family during the holidays.
2. Be Realistic
While it’s great to have hope, chances are your difficult relatives haven’t changed much over the years. This is where you need to be more realistic with your expectations. Changing your perspective on the holiday gathering and these family members will help reduce the tension. When you have lower expectations and are prepared for the difficulties that will ensue, you’ll be setting yourself up to reduce stress and have a better time at your next holiday gathering.
3. Avoid Upsetting Topics
If you’re passionate about certain topics and know that engaging in this type of conversation will get you all wound up and upset, then simply avoid it. There’s no reason to discuss every topic that comes up at a holiday gathering. Learn to redirect the conversation to something that’s less upsetting so that you can be amicable with these difficult relatives, that by the way, won’t change their ways simply to appease you. If worse comes to worst, simply say that this isn’t the time nor place to discuss the topic and refuse to engage. I can tell you a quick “Excuse me” and a run to the powder room (remember that meditative breathing?) absolutely helps change the subject.
4. Stay Busy
Find a way to stay busy and active with the family members you enjoy speaking to during the holidays. If you’re too busy doing something else then there’s a lower chance that your difficult relatives can engage in a testy conversation with you. Make a plan to navigate towards family members you will enjoy catching up with so that you’re too busy speaking with them to even notice the difficult ones. We’ve been bringing some fun board games to Holidays recently that help us keep things light.
5. Control Yourself
Lastly, remember that you cannot control how your difficult relatives behave. You’re only in control of how you behave and your reactions to upsetting topics or discussions. Remember that you don’t have to answer to anyone, you’re an adult with your own life and opinions. Find a place of zen, using that relaxation tip above, so that you arrive feeling balanced and ready to control your reactions to upsetting topics that may arise. I have my safe person- my sister-in-law, who I can exchange looks with to let each other know that we’re not alone. We also make sure we have each other’s backs if things start to get dicey.
These are just 5 ways to cope with difficult relatives during the holidays, but I’m sure you have some more ideas to share. Dealing with difficult relatives is a sensitive subject, for we love our family but sometimes they can be downright difficult to deal with. I hope my tips shared today will inspire you to enjoy every holiday gathering this year with minimal stress and anxiety so that you enjoy your time with these extended family members, regardless of how difficult they may be.