Holidays Minus The Family Drama. I don’t know about you but I’m not that fond of the Holidays as much as some people are. The so called fun and excitement wrapped up in Holiday Cheer is not what it’s cracked up to be. As a Marriage and Family Therapist I know for some, it’s a time of loneliness and depression. Days filled with obligation, guilt, and doing things you really don’t want to do. Part of what happens during the holiday season is we have more mood changes and anxiety. This occurs because of the stress we put on ourselves to make sure the Holidays meet the expectations of others. Overdrinking, overeating and fatigue can cause it. The demands of the season are many: shopping, cooking, travel, houseguests, family reunions, office parties, more shopping and the extra financial burden.
(Photo: MARK SELIGER PARAMOUNT PICTURES)
But the most stressful is having to manage your emotions when in the company of challenging family members who don’t exercise appropriate behavior. The nagging aunt, the annoying mother-in-law, the rude cousin/brother/sister, etc. Whether it’s Thanksgiving Dinner or the Christmas Eve gift exchange event you know exactly who those people are.
Tips to get through the obligatory Family Get-Together:
1 – First of all you don’t need anyone’s permission to say NO, I’m not going.
2 – Be careful about resentments from past holidays. – Declare an amnesty with whichever family member you are feeling past resentments toward.
3 – Avoid the person that bugs you. – Be gracious with a greeting then stay the heck away from them. Don’t even establish eye contact afterwards.
4 – Develop and utilize coping skills when you are triggered. – You can excuse yourself, take a walk, do deep breathing, go to the bathroom for a time out, remind yourself to stay in the here-and-now, stretch arms over your head to release tension, leave at a set time, etc.
5 – If you drink, don’t let the occasion become a reason for over-indulging to cope. This will exacerbate your depression and anxiety, as well as disable your ability to utilize your coping skills. Contrary to popular opinion, alcohol is a depressant.
6 – To offset that day give yourself a break. – create time for yourself to do the things YOU love and need to do for your physical and mental wellness: aerobic exercise, yoga, massage, taking long fast walks or any activity that calms you down and gives you a better perspective on what is important in your life.