The holidays are a time of joy and cheer, but they can also be a source of stress and anxiety. For many of us, family gatherings are the highlight (or lowlight) of the holiday season. If you’re dreading getting together with your extended family this year, don’t worry because we have some tips that will help you survive the festivities.
Set Reasonable Expectations
It’s important to remember that most people want the same thing from these gatherings—to enjoy the company of their loved ones and create meaningful memories. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make it a perfect event. If you go in expecting perfection, you will likely end up disappointed. Instead, strive for realistic expectations about what this family gathering could look like and remain flexible if things don’t go as planned.
Prepare Ahead of Time
If you know there is going to be tension at the gathering due to past issues or arguments, it is best to prepare ahead of time so that those issues do not arise during the festivities. Remind yourself that this gathering should be an enjoyable experience—not one filled with resentment or anger over past events. You can also take time before the gathering to practice self-care activities such as meditation or taking a walk outdoors in order to ground yourself and prepare for whatever may come your way at the gathering.
Focus On What's Important
At times like these, it is easy to forget what really matters—being present with your loved ones and creating meaningful connections with them! Focus on having meaningful conversations and catching up with each other rather than dwelling on any differences or disagreements. If there is an issue that needs addressing, address it calmly and try your best not to let emotions get in the way. This could be easier said than done but knowing how important it is can help motivate you toward achieving this goal!
Remember That You Don't Have To Agree With Everyone
Family members may disagree with each other's lifestyles or choices, but at the end of the day, they should still love and respect one another. While it may be hard not to take offense when someone says something negative about your lifestyle choices, remember that nobody has the right to judge or criticize you. At the end of the day, it's important to respect each other's differences and learn how to accept them instead of trying to change them.
Focus On What Unites You All
When disagreements arise at a family gathering, remind yourself that you all have one thing in common: You are all part of the same family! Use this shared bond as a way to bridge any gaps between you and your relatives by talking about shared memories or experiences that bring everyone together in laughter or joy. This will help foster communication among everyone at the gathering and give everyone something positive to focus on instead of arguing about things they disagree on.
Don't Get Hung Up On the Little Things
The holidays are a time to come together and celebrate with your loved ones, so don't get hung up on the little things. If your Aunt Martha insists on serving green beans instead of Brussels sprouts, let it go. If your cousin Joe gets a little too rowdy after a few too many eggnogs, just step away and take a deep breath. It's not worth ruining your holiday over something so small.
Be Willing to Compromise
If you're planning on spending the holidays with your extended family, be willing to compromise. If you have young children, maybe it makes more sense to stay at home rather than travel. Or if you're trying to save money, maybe you can agree to spend Christmas Eve with one side of the family and Christmas Day with the other. Whatever the situation, be flexible and be willing to meet in the middle.
Set Some Ground Rules
If you're dreading spending time with certain family members, it might be helpful to set some ground rules before the holiday gathering begins. If you know that Uncle Bob is always ready to start a political argument, agree ahead of time to avoid discussing hot-button topics. Or if Aunt Sue is always trying to set you up with her single friends, let her know that you're not interested and would appreciate it if she didn't bring it up. By setting some boundaries, you can help make the holiday gathering more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Make an Exit Strategy
No matter how well-prepared you are, there's always a chance that things will go south at a family gathering. If you start to feel overwhelmed or like you're about to lose your cool, have an exit strategy in place. Maybe you can excuse yourself to use the restroom or take a phone call outside. Or maybe you can say that you're not feeling well and need to lie down for a bit. Whatever you do, don't stay in a situation that makes you uncomfortable - it's not worth it!
Bring Along Some Entertainment
If you're worried about being bored during your family holiday gathering, bring along some entertainment. Bring along a book or your laptop so you can catch up on some work or reading. Or bring along some games or puzzles so you can stay busy if things get slow. By having something to occupy your time, you can help make sure that the holiday gathering is more enjoyable for everyone involved
At the end of the day, family gatherings during the holidays can be stressful but they don't have to be! With a little bit of preparation and self-care, you can make sure that your family gatherings are enjoyable experiences filled with laughter and love instead of resentment or disagreement. We hope these tips were helpful for getting through any tough family gatherings this holiday season!