3 Smart Ways to Manage Mental Health Over the Holidays With Family
For most of us, managing our mental health during the holiday season feels more like we are walking through a minefield—one wrong step and KABOOM!
Let’s just be honest here; family can make us lose our minds. The reason that the holidays can be stressful with family is because of the old wounds that are often forgotten about or buried for most of the year. However, a holiday family gathering can act as a trigger to bring up those issues. Things that we thought were non-issues seem to resurface. Also, family does not always fight fair.
Here are three ways to manage your stress during holiday family gatherings.
Politely Shut Down Negativity
If you know that your mother-in-law triggers you with her passive aggressive comments, repeat them back to her. For example, if your mother-in-law says, “the house looks lived in” as soon as she walks through the door, you can say as you welcome her, “the house looks lived in?” Pose your mother-in-law’s statement as a question.
Many times people do not hear their words as they are coming out of their mouths. All you’re doing is allowing her to hear her words out loud by repeating them in question form. This strategy also lets your mother-in-law know that you hear her and that she may have to say more about that statement. It also sometimes it puts people on notice that they cannot just make statements and without having to answer for them. It is a direct non-confrontational way of dealing with passive-aggressive behavior.
Plan to Have Fun
Play Pictionary, card games or do karaoke. You can even enjoy a family flag football game. As long as you are not too competitive, games and activities can be a fun. It’s a way for your whole family to bond and reduce the stress of the holidays.
Detour Drama with a Plan
This lowers anxiety and increases the probability that you don’t get injured. Be strategic; where do you run for cover? If you have two sisters who don’t get along and you are expecting the usual showdown between them, plan ahead. How are going to manage the situation? Leave the room, go for a walk, or talk to each one of them before the holiday season.
You could frame the conversation about your hopes and wishes for the holiday, then move the conversation towards goal setting. How can we make this the best Thanksgiving ever? Talk about the meal, division of labor, and also how to make everyone feel welcomed and supported. That way you can begin the conversation about potential conflicts and how to manage them. Illicit everyone’s help to make this the best holiday gathering ever! Use some of the strategies that I have outlined in this article. Having a strategy and knowing what works is the best defense!
If you’re holding on to any pain that a family member or your partner caused, I have a theory about why it’s so hard to forgive. Try to resolve this issue so you can both enjoy a fun and loving holiday season.
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