“What?!” you say incredulously. “Why would I need to survive my family during the holidays? We are just like a Norman Rockwell painting!” If you can honestly say this, we think that’s amazing! We want families to be happy and connected! Odds are if you’re reading a blog on our website you are, in fact, trying to figure out how to manage the family stress of the holidays and come out the other side without needing twice-a-week counseling in Wake Forest.
The holidays can still be a magical season filled with joy even if your family sometimes is a little challenging. We have some tips to help you not only survive, but thrive in this holiday season.
Tip 1 – Boundaries are key!
If you don’t know what a boundary is, you can think of it like a fence with a gate. It sets a perimeter of access to you. You can choose to open the gate or not, depending on the situation. For holidays, it may be important to establish a few fence lines (or stick to ones you already have). For example, if political discussion become heated in your family you may set a boundary of not allowing that kind of discussion at meal times. You can let folks know ahead of time, “I know we can all get really passionate about what we believe or think about politically, but we’re gonna keep that out of the meals this year. Let’s focus on talking about what we are thankful for this year that has nothing to do with politics.” A boundary like this can help steer the conversation without alienating anyone’s viewpoint.
Tip 2 – Take breaks
There is great value in taking a walk or taking a step away. I heard a saying once that guests are like fish – after three days they start to smell and should go. When family come from afar (or we go to them) the three-day rule might be a bit tough. Instead, take some breaks from each other. Go for a walk (which also can help reduce depression and anxiety), go shopping, go read a book.
Tip 3 – Manage your expectations
We often are disappointed when our expectations are not met. If Uncle Bob always leaves a plate of half-consumed cake on the bathroom sink then expecting something different can leave you extra frustrated. Getting angry about it doesn’t mean it will change – it just means you’ll probably get in a fight. Are you able to overlook Uncle Bob’s choice of plate storage for the week he’s at your house? Are you able to be okay with your mom asking you (again) why you’re not yet married or when you’re giving her grandchildren? If you can let some things go you’ll find yourself happier. We do want to say, this applies only to family annoyances, not abusive behaviors!
We hope these are helpful tips to help you survive family during the holidays and not need to come to counseling in Wake Forest when it’s all over!
If family is a real challenge and you need counseling in Wake Forest
That said, we do know family can sometimes be super hard to negotiate and there may be some things you do want to talk with one of our Wake Forest counselors about. We are happy to help! Reach out today at 919-891-0525 for your free, 15-minute consultation for counseling in Wake Forest NC.