The holiday season means time for celebrating with those closest to you. Whichever definition you choose, this usually means family–and family stress.
Family can be many things and if the movies teach us one thing–it’s that a holiday trip can be annoying but end with a loveable lesson. Here is what we do to make it past the awkward hugs, the eye-rolls, and weird, invasive questions about your love life.
1. Don’t Let Guilt Control You
Guilt is a great tactic to get people to do what you want. While this is taken to an extreme in abusive relationships, it’s usually just a mild bit of stress when it comes to family. However, stress can build up over time, especially when you have other things to do.
Need to get a ham on the table, but also have to hold a conversation with Mom? Dinner time can get hectic. Just remember, those closest to you generally have your well-being in mind.
If they are guilting you, determine what it is they actually want. Do they want to spend more time with you? Address this. Get it out in the open, and don’t let the age-old tactic control you.
2. One Day at a Time
Have a two-week trip to stay with your relatives? Just take it one day at a time. This can work even if you’re not on an extended stay. One hour at a time, one moment at a time. Just focus on the task at hand, and give it your full attention. Don’t worry about the rest of it.
With stressful times, it helps to use these bite-size moments. If you worry too much about the future, you’re going to put more stress on the present moment. This is where meditation comes in. You can use this tool to help calm your mind and increase your patience.
3. Organize your Giftlist (and Budget)
Organization will set you free! Think you have an insurmountable pile of tasks? Break them up, just like the previous step. It’s going to stress you out much more if you have this cloud of ideas floating over your head.
Here are some steps to help with that to-do list:
- Write them all down – Get everything out of your head and onto paper (or screen). Make sure you have access to your notes so you can edit them as needed.
- Organize by priority – You’ll see some relatives first and others later. Rearrange your gift list in order of whom you will be running into throughout the months.
- Organize again by gift – After you know who you’ll be getting gifts for, you can start assigning gift ideas to each person. Brainstorm with some warm cocoa for bonus points!
- Set realistic goals – You probably have a good idea of your budget for these things, but price check each item first and get yourself a total. It’s easier to plan with concrete numbers to work with.
- Finalize it with a checklist – For some, the act of checking things off a list imparts a sense of satisfaction. Grab a big marker and put a check next to everything you accomplish.
4. Be Realistic with Family Expectations
It may seem counterintuitive, but saying “no” to people will actually foster healthier relationships. Your family and friends will want to see as much of you as possible over the season, and that pressure can stress you out!
Think about what you can realistically accomplish. Take the checklist from earlier but instead of gifts put family members you wish to see. Then, instead of gift prices, place trip prices for each one.
If you can’t fit in everyone, make promises to visit instead after the holiday rush calms down. They’ll most likely understand, and if they don’t–well, unfortunately, we don’t have the answers to everything!
5. Keep Self-Care in Your Routine
This extends beyond simple meditation. If you have a fitness regimen, don’t fall behind during family visits. Try to get to a gym or do home exercises.
Sticking to your routines (self-care or otherwise) will not only give you a mental boost, but it also sets an internal standard. You’re going to give your time and energy this holiday season to those you care about, but don’t lose your own way in the process. Stay grounded.
Any visit is a chance for family stress. You want your parents/relatives to have a good time with you and enjoy your stay, but the holidays can add an entirely new dimension of pressure on the events. Keeping good friends and family have surprising health benefits, so these visits are definitely worth it in the long run.
Just remember these five rules and you should sail through with no problem. Don’t forget to refrigerate leftovers and keep receipts. Happy Holidays, everyone!