How to Cope with Family Stress Over the Holidays
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Health and Wellness

How to Cope with Family Stress Over the Holidays

If you have a difficult relationship with your family, the holidays can bring tensions to a boiling point. Here are some tips to cope.

How to Cope with Family Stress Over the Holidays
Remember To Say 'Happy Holidays,' Not 'Merry Christmas' This Holiday Season

This is a response to Holiday Season.

As the holidays approach, I find myself feeling an unpleasant emotion- jealousy.

This might not be the first feeling you think of when it comes to this festive time of year. Joy, gratitude, and anticipation might seem like a more appropriate response. Believe me, these are the emotions I'd like to feel.

But when you come from a tense home environment, it's hard to feel excited about the holiday season. The idea of spending more time at home can be stressful, fear-inducing, even downright triggering. It's easy to long for what you imagine other people get to experience- warmth, comfort, joyful times with some of your favorite people.

If this is how you feel, I understand where you're coming from. But I've also come to learn that comparison is the thief of joy- especially when it comes to family life. Here are some tips to make this holiday season a little more bearable.

Accept Your Feelings

This might seem obvious- if you know what you're feeling, don't you already "accept" it? Surprisingly, the answer is no. If you know you're feeling anxious, scared, or frustrated, but wish desperately that you didn't, you're resisting your current reality. The truth is that, although these feelings are unpleasant, they're a normal part of the human experience. It's okay to feel negative emotions. In fact, it's inevitable. Accepting this and not putting pressure on yourself to feel a different way is the first step to coping with stressful situations.

Set Realistic Expectations

Following the first tip: just as you shouldn't pressure yourself to change your emotions, don't expect others to change their emotions or behaviors. If you know your parents fight a lot around the holidays, go in expecting them to do just that. If your grandma makes critical comments about your weight, brace yourself to hear them.

Don't get your hopes up believing things will magically be different this year. Unless your family members are doing the deep work needed to change toxic patterns, they're probably going to act the same way they always have. This is unfortunate, but it's also a normal part of the way humans work. Breaking patterns takes lots of time and effort. Not everyone has it in them to do so.

Put Your Foot Down

Although you can predict how your family will behave, that doesn't mean you have to take everything they dish out. If you're tired of your mom picking on you for your job, appearance, or romantic life, say so. You don't have to be harsh. But simply saying, " Mom, I know you're concerned about me because you want the best for me. But I don't like when we discuss this topic. I'd rather leave it alone so we can all have a good time. If you keep bringing it up, I'm going to exit this conversation," can go a long way.

Take Time for Yourself

If you say you're going to step out of uncomfortable conversations, follow up. Take a walk around the block, step outside to call a friend, spend some time doing yoga or reading alone in your room. Incorporate whatever habits help you feel grounded and at peace during your holiday season. If you have a stressful home life, you'll need them more than ever.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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