The holidays bring about tons of stressful situations, such as the gifts you haven’t wrapped yet (or still haven’t bought), the Christmas cards you have yet to send out, and all the upcoming parties you have to attend. For many people, family tends to be the biggest stressor. Strained relationships, family obligations, and uncomfortable situations can be triggers that make the holidays a difficult time. However, there are many ways to deal with family and to maintain your mental health over the holidays. Read on to find out more!
Focus on the Positives
Your mindset can become your reality, so try to stay positive. Dwelling on the negatives only increases stress, even before the festivities begin. Don’t focus on the problems you have with your loved ones; instead, think about the things you do enjoy. Changing your outlook can help you feel and act happier during the event, and it can even make you better able to cope with the bad things that might happen.
Tip: Here are some positive thoughts to consider. What qualities do you love about your family members? Which family members are you most looking forward to seeing? Are there any dishes your family members cook that you are excited to eat?
Make a Plan
Even though dwelling on the negatives is harmful, it is still important to be aware of what to expect. Preparing yourself for potentially stressful situations can help you handle them better. Make a list of three events that are likely to occur (limit yourself to only three because thinking about a million “what ifs” can make you more stressed) and then plan a good way to handle those situations.
Tip: Other things to plan out beforehand are: safe conversation topics, appropriate responses to invasive questions, and even an excuse or reason to leave if you become too overwhelmed.
Learn to Say “No”
Your boundaries matter, too. Saying “yes” when you should be saying “no,” can lead to resentful and overwhelming emotions. You don’t have to participate in everything. Saying “no” to certain activities allows you to build your energy and participate in other events that you do want to be there for. Asserting your boundaries in this way, not only allows you to take care of your own needs, but can give you more control over the situation. This reduces stress and allows you to have more fun during the festivities.
Tip: Saying “no,” in an aggressive or angry tone can upset your loved ones. Try firm yet polite phrases like: “no thank you,” “I am not feeling up to it right now,” or “I’m not really into that, but thanks for asking.” Don’t be afraid to say it twice.
Let Go of the Past and Stay in the Present
Even if a family member has wronged you in the past, holding grudges isn’t good for your mental health. These are the holidays, so set aside your problems for a more appropriate time and focus on the present moment. Your family won’t be on earth forever, so try to enjoy your time with them right now. If others become distressed when something goes wrong, be understanding – they are likely feeling the effects of holiday stress, too.
Tip: Catch yourself whenever you start to think about past issues, and then let those thoughts leave your mind. Focus on good things that are happening right here and now.
The holidays are a time to come together and strengthen bonds with your loved ones. Creating new traditions is a great way to celebrate the holidays together. For example, everyone can start by practicing gratitude. Think about all you have to be thankful for – a warm home, good health, loving pets, a nice family, and anything else that makes you happy. Then, have everyone else take a turn and share the things they’re grateful for!
Tip: Other new traditions could include photographing happy moments, baking a new dessert together, making Christmas cards by hand, or planning upcoming holidays together.
Dealing with family can be incredibly stressful if you don’t know how to handle it. With the right coping mechanisms, getting through the holidays should be a breeze! For mental health help during the holidays and all throughout the year, come to Mind Enhancement Center for hypnosis suggestions, coping skills, or tools!