Tips For Getting Along With All Your Family During the Holidays
1) Think Something Nice, or Don’t Think Anything at All. Before visiting the in-laws or joining your family for dinner, think of at least one nice thing about the person to help you be a little more compassionate. Remember, not everyone is completely terrible. Maybe your over-involved mother-in-law rubs you the wrong way but she’s an amazing grandmother. Or your immature brother is always cracking jokes at your expense but was the first to text your on your birthday. Whoever it may be, find one redeeming quality. If you’re having difficultly coming up with something before you walk in the door, maybe it’s as simple as liking your dad’s tie or your sister-in-law’s new necklace.
2) Watch Your Reactions. Although you may be able to hold your tongue, your nonverbal behaviors can reveal more than any words. If your brother’s girlfriend says something that you disagree with, control the eye roll. Even if your mother is commenting again about you working too much, try not to shoot her a laser beam glare or dumbfounded look you’re known for. Just like holding your tongue can maintain the peace, being aware of your reactions can stop a potential argument dead in its tracks.
3) Smile and Bite Your Tongue. When you’re with your family, breathe before you speak. Taking a deep breath will help you decide if you really want to utter the thought that just popped into your head. If what was said was minor, just smile and bite your tongue. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, maybe you cannot fully understand why you’re your aunt is criticizing your haircut, but putting things into perspective will help you not snap back with a comment about her weight gain.
4) Take A Time Out and De-stress. If it’s getting to the point where it’s all too much to handle, excuse yourself. Take a walk around the block or read a chapter of your book away from the family. Caring for yourself will reduce your level of stress, allowing you to continuing being more aware of your reactions and negative comebacks.
5) Set Boundaries. While some things are minor, there are family issues and secrets that are unforgivable. If this is the case for you, smiling and watching what you say may not be enough. Being around that certain family member may trigger feelings you try all year to push down and, in his or her presence, you find you are unable to control what you say. In this situation, set boundaries with your family. Arrive early and leave before that member is expected to arrive. Explain to your family that you are uncomfortable and have made the choice to avoid drama.
However, if you think you can maintain your composure while in the presence of that family member, try setting boundaries with him or her. Let your relative know that certain topics are not up for discussion. Keep yourself protected and maintain your distance, sit at the other end of the table and mingle with other relatives to avoid being alone with him or her.
Even as an Adult Playing Nice is Difficult
Getting along with family members isn’t always easy. Yes, even as an adult! However, going into your family dinner or weekend vacation with a more positive attitude can help you maintain your mental well-being. Start reducing your level of stress now by reminding yourself it’s only a couple of hours or the weekend.