So the holiday season is upon us, which ought to fill us with joy and laughter but yet we are busy trying to come up with reasons NOT to visit our families. As marriage and family therapists, we get it. Holidays are a great time to see family but that doesn't necessarily mean that it will be warm hugs and sweet kisses.
We often get met with the same old questions about what we plan to do with our lives or how we should of married Bob the now famous millionaire, which gets very old and drawn out. But instead of trying to devise an evil scheme to drop out of the holiday photo, why not come up with a plan to survive the holidays with your loved one. And yes survival is what I mean.
Let's face it; we don't go through the holidays we SURVIVE the holidays. It is literally exhausting. From Thanksgiving to New Years, we literally turn on auto-mode and do the normal holiday song and dance which often leaves us 10 pounds heavier from the stress eating. But this year can be different! You already started on a GREAT path by joining us today to learn a few tricks on how to make things a bit brighter this holiday season.
1. Go home with a positive outlook. Sounds simple enough, but it is actually harder in application than most people think.
Take a few minutes sometime today or later on this week to think about a few good things you have going on in your life. It can be anything from a great new watch to a small promotion that was granted to you a few days earlier. Thinking about the positive things you have can help you field off questions of what people are expecting from you. So instead of rolling your eyes at Aunt Beatrice for questioning your dating, you can focus your answer on all the things that are going well with you. Being positive is always a great way to combat intrusive questions.
2. Don't have any expectations. While it is good to have expectations of a good time, let's be real holidays are stressful. You might anticipate a good time but may be disappointed or you could expect a stressful time and miss out on all the good vibes around you. Just go home with no expectations and allow things to flow naturally. Playing things as the come allows you to be more open and free to anything that may happen.
3. Let the past, stay in the past. So while we all enjoy reminiscing about how we secretly went out during our teenage years or how maybe we decided to color our hair green for a year, often times discussing past things may bring up heightened emotions. At the end of the day we can't change the past. So why let it effect us now? Now this may sound simpler than it actually is, but if you need to take 10 seconds to breathe and let bygones be bygones then do it. Don't let it take you to a place where it is going to affect your present and future relationships with your family.
4. Help yourself. If you know that you can become irritated or frustrated with certain family members why not make or buy a stress ball. Put something in your pocket that is squishy or pliable that represents a stress ball so that when Uncle Bob rolls around the corner you can squeeze it the whole time and he not even know.
5. Remember that nobody is perfect so try to be more flexible with the mistakes that will inevitably happen for example an extra unexpected guest, no cranberry sauce or even a burnt turkey.
6. Take a break- sometimes family time can be too much especially if you are in a crowded house with 3 cousins that brought 3 kids a piece with them plus grandma, grandpa, mom and dad. Why not give yourself a “too much scale”. Assign yourself a scale from 1-5, 1 being that you are ok and 5 being that it’s time for that bathroom break. If it is all becoming too much take a bathroom break, woo sah or a walk outside.
Relationships have patterns, even the ones with your family so chances are you already know how the holiday will go so take a deep breath, get dressed and go enjoy some turkey and family time.
Written by: Jessica Jefferson, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist and Owner of Cloud Nine Therapeutic Services. My passion is working with couples who need assistance in navigating life's transitions such as: newly engaged couples, divorcing couples, and couples becoming new parents. I help them utilize strengths within themselves and their relationship to overcome challenges and find peace.