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4 Tips to Survive the Holidays with Your Family

4 Tips to Survive the Holidays with Your Family
4 Tips to Survive the Holidays with Your Family

It's that time of year when we leave our homes and busy lives to go to be with our families.

Of course it's different if you're driving across town to visit for a day or an afternoon than it is if you're boarding a plane or driving a car a great distance to join your family for the holidays. The farther the trip the longer you are likely to stay around for a few days.

Through the years I've heard a number of challenging stories from people about their less than blissful home-for-the-holidays visits.

4 Tips to Survive the Holidays with Your Family

1 - Be realistic with your expectations.

Some things never change. If your family gathering generally has elements of drama, tension or stress, be realistic. It's not likely to turn into a Norman Rockwell painting this year. Take the best and leave the rest behind. Everyone is in charge of themselves and you are the only person you have control over. So start with you and make up your mind how you are going to handle similar occurrences should they arise.

Remember that some things are predictable. If near the end of a holiday meal Aunt Anne always has way too much to drink and verbally attacks someone at the table, what do you do? Don't stay for dessert! Walk the dog, go to a movie, get out of the house, excuse yourself from unnecessary stress.

In other words if the drama, tension or stress is predictable you can probably identify at what point in the day these things happen. Plan ahead and choose to do something different when the old scene starts to replay itself again.

4 Tips to Survive the Holidays with Your Family

Adjust your expectations to fit reality. If you know you start to get testy after 24 hours at your family member's home and you want to bite their heads off - don't stay there. Find yourself other lodging. See how it's different when you don't repeat what you've done in the past.

2 - Connect over feelings not thoughts. You are there to enjoy each other's company. Rather than get into heated discussions about subjects and facts you will never agree on, focus on pleasant feelings. People tend to be more flexible about what they feel instead of what they think. If you're looking to debate someone choose a different time and place. Let your technician take the holiday off (they are not good at relationships anyway) and leave them behind at home. In other words, show up and look for ways to enjoy each other. Be mindful of listening to others and sharing when you can.

4 Tips to Survive the Holidays with Your Family

3 - Practice Self-Control. This time of year is marked by access to excess. Take care of yourself and practice moderation. Maintain some balance in your life with healthy nutrition, physical activity, and adequate sleep. If you drink alcohol, be responsible. Remember you need to keep your impulse control in check and you need to reasonable, realistic and safe. Pack your patience because you are going to be around human beings. If you have unresolved issues with your family members go to therapy.

4 - Be present. Focus on being in the moment, use your five sense to be grounded in the here and now. Avoid the urge to get in your head and start thinking of the work and responsibilities that will be waiting for you when you return home. Avoid being attached to your phone. Enjoy the sights, the sounds, the scents, the tastes and touches. If you're visiting with your 90 year old grandmother focus on what she's saying, make eye contact with her and ask relevant questions. If you're wrestling with your 8 year old nephew, have fun and make sure you don't break anything! In other words, get out of yourself and engage with your family members!

These tips can help you craft a better experience for yourself and others.

This is not the time to dig deep into the past and attempt to resolve long standing conflicts. It's an opportunity for you to show up with your adult self and be present. Connect on whatever level you can. It's not a time to be right, it's a time to be happy.

4 Tips to Survive the Holidays with Your Family
Be Present

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