Does your anxiety level spike during the holidays because you’re dreading the interaction with difficult family? You know the ones—Uncle Obnoxious and Auntie Know-It-All? Maintain your holiday happiness with these healthy ideas and tips on how to deal with difficult family.
Dealing with difficult family members can be even worse if you’re already stressed out because you have overextended yourself in almost every way possible: too many activities and events, too much money spent on gifts and travel, too much baking, too much eating, too many drinks.
Instead, make a conscious effort to slow down this holiday season. Choose one favorite item to bake and be done. Spend more quiet evenings at home with family, rather than running to every holiday event.
And by all means, stay healthy. Try to stick to a healthy way of eating, instead of using the holidays as an excuse to eat poorly. Resist the temptation to overindulge in alcohol because “Come on! It’s Christmas!” Pay attention to your body, and when it’s tired, say enough is enough.
Know Your Triggers
Be realistic. You’re not going to change that difficult family member. What you can do is change how you react to them. Start by identifying your triggers. Is it something they say or do? Is it a past memory or a disagreement? By anticipating the words and actions that have historically occurred, you can be prepared to handle them.
If there is a good thing about knowing that Uncle Obnoxious is going to have three martinis and then start telling you how you’re wasting your life, it is that you can prepare your responses ahead of time. Make them polite and kind, while also confident and self-supporting.
Does Cousin Cool come in and start talking about his big house, fancy car, and designer clothes (just to try to make you feel inadequate)? Rather than getting defensive, congratulate him, discuss his “cool stuff,” and then share stories about what makes you happy.
Ask for Help
The holidays can be a tough time, even if you’re not dealing with difficult family members. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, or are concerned about a substance abuse problem, Dallas Behavioral Healthcare Hospital is here to help.