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Tips for Holiday Family Stress

Tips for Holiday Family Stress

A few years ago a client gave me the sign in the picture above saying “I’ll be home for Christmas and in therapy by New Years”.

Many clients over the years have laughed at and commented on how true this is. Family relationships and dynamics are not always easy or have a happy ending, no matter what the Hallmark channel tells us.

The holidays are here now in full force.

This means holiday parties with friends, coworkers and family. Hopefully for most of you, this is a joyous time filled with nothing but love and happiness, and maybe too much shopping. For many though, these get togethers can be difficult and stressful.

Not everyone has supportive healthy families and relationships in their lives.

And if you are a sensitive, empathic person being around negativity can really affect you.

Whether you just don’t see eye to eye with certain relatives or there are significant issues such as alcoholism in the family, these tips can help you cope with the holiday gatherings. 

  • Before seeing the person or people you find difficult to be around, ground yourself by feeling your feet firmly planted and visualize yourself in a glass bubble, completely protected. We are all made up of energy and can be affected and feel the energy of those around us. By visualizing a shield around yourself, it provides an energetic barrier to protect your own energy and therefore be less affected by what is around you.
  • Another variation of this is to imagine a large mirror in front of you, facing the negativity. The mirror is another barrier which allows the other person’s energy to reflect off the mirror and bounce back to them, where it belongs.
  • Remember you are not responsible for other people’s feelings, only your own. Try to remind yourself their unhappiness or issues are their own.
  • Remember it’s ok to take a time out if you need a break. Offer to go out for ice if they run out, or just step outside for some fresh air. If all else fails, go into the bathroom for a few minutes and take a few cleansing breaths.
  • Distraction is also helpful. If there are pets or children around, play with them. Try not to sit near the person who affects you negatively. Focus on and surround yourself with those you feel most comfortable and positive.
  • Plan something restorative for after the party. Watch a favorite show or read a book, just give yourself something to look forward to. This also helps to remind you the stressor is temporary.

Lastly, remember that whatever you feel is ok.

It may not be how you want to feel, but make sure not to judge your feelings. They are what they are. Acknowledge them and they will move along much quicker. And as always, self care is crucial. Make sure to put yourself on your holiday list.

If the holiday stress feels like too much to manage on your own, feel free to contact me. An objective ear and support can help significantly. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year!

Kathy Most
Therapist in Westfield, NJ
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