It’s the holidays, it’s the best time of the year. Or at least, it’s supposed to be. Often the joy of the holiday season can be overshadowed by family drama, conflict, and disagreements. Some of this may come in waves of anticipation, making it difficult to commit happily to family gatherings. Other times it happens in the moment and feels like it takes over the day. Some of these things may be unavoidable, and some of them out of your control. Having self-awareness of how you let these things impact you is important to your holiday enjoyment.
Let us first talk about anticipation, when we anticipate something, it shows a level of worry and anxiety over something that is most-likely out of our control. If it was in our control, we probably would not anticipate it as much. Some ways to battle off the weight of worry is to talk about it, process your fears of what might happen, accept that it is out of your control, and lower your expectations around the topic. Often when we have high expectations of things going a certain way, we easily feel that we need to control them to go that way; and lead our self down the path of disappointment when it does not. Instead allow yourself to be in the moment, taking things as they come, and allowing people to respond to them as they see fit.
What about those family conflicts and disagreements that happen during a family gathering? Perhaps a family member brings up a conflicting topic, or there is a sense of judgement or disapproval being perceived. In these moments, it is important to regulate your emotions, stay in control, and choose what level you want to engage in the conversation. In this, you have the control of what happens next. Staying in control of our emotional responses can be very difficult. Some tips to remain in control are to take a deep breath, think about how you feel, and respond in a way to promotes the connection of the family. Sometimes this response may be acknowledging what the other person said but stating that now is not the time to discuss the topic. After all, this is a family holiday gathering!
It is important to assess what dynamic you are bringing to your family holiday event too. You want to give yourself the best set up for a successful, fun family memory! Mental preparedness goes a long way when you know you must engage with those whose presence can be difficult for you. Take time this year to bring your best self to those gatherings, and do so by self-reflecting, journaling, and taking time for self-care before and after stressful family events. You deserve it!