7 Tips from Our Therapists on How to Avoid Holiday Drama

Asma Rehman, LPC
Latest posts by Asma Rehman, LPC (see all)

The holidays are always a great time to be around your loved ones. But with fun times, there is still the potential for some holiday drama that stirs up all the stress and emotions that may be hard to deal. Here are six easy tips that our family therapists  suggest to help you avoid the inevitable holiday drama.

1. Know Your Boundaries

On keeping your cool during the holiday season when you are around family members, it is essential to know your boundaries. Knowing your limitations means that you need to know when you may cross a line and say or do something that might upset someone else. It also means that you should not be caught up in any drama – you are only human, and it is easy to get yourself involved.

Read: Coping with the Stress of the Holiday Season

Our family therapists suggest that you have a healthy respect for family drama and know when to walk away and know when to apologize sincerely. The combination of a group of people with history mixed with curbed emotions is a recipe for a Christmas dinner disaster.

2. Be Prepared

Be prepared to have some course of action or words to say when you see disagreement or a clash on the horizon. Look for ways to get out of being in the middle of a conversation by changing the topic, going to a different room, or calling it a night. Plan for things you can say and plan for ways you can take a break from conversations that are triggers for arguments. As our family therapists suggests, more important than knowing what to say and do, it is crucial to know when you should have some alone time, be around a different set of people, or pick up a different activity.

3. Anticipate Heightened Emotions

Anticipating and accepting the ups and downs during the holidays can give you the upper hand in dealing with family drama. As our family therapists suggest, it is in your best interest to look for solutions in times of conflict instead of adding to the pile of negative emotions and complaints. Don’t get caught up with all the heightened emotions that come with difficult conversations, emotional discomfort, and careless relatives.

If you think back to previous Christmas holidays with your family, what are specific things that ticked you off or rubbed you the wrong way? Look for those triggers that will get under your skin and anticipate them with rehearsed responses so that you cannot possibly lose your cool over the offenses. Perhaps it’s your aunts’ unwanted comments about how you make your turkey or your cousin’s girlfriend who drinks a bit too much before dinner even begins. Whatever it may be, the patterns can be the same every year, so you can get ahead and anticipate them with a well-executed plan to keep your composure.

4. Advice: Don’t Dish It or Take It

Advising during the holidays usually provokes people and brings up resentments. If there are disagreements you have with someone, the best approach is to validate that person’s advice and let them know that their opinion makes sense. Our family therapists can confirm that, by validating the person, you are disarming them from having to continue their battle with you to prove their point.

When a family member decides to give you advice, do not take it personally. Your happiness during the holidays should not bank on how everyone else is feeling or acting. Remember that everybody has their set of issues and sometimes rude comments are a reflection of what struggles that person may be experiencing. Make sure you know your boundaries and take people’s advice with a grain of salt. Most of the times, they are not intentionally trying to hurt you. Be respectful of any unwanted help by telling the giver of the advice that you appreciate their opinion and walk away. You don’t need to take responsibility for their views.

5. Just Drop the Baggage

The holidays are a time to bring family and friends together to solidify a loving family unit. However, it is also a refuge for family history, personality conflicts, and unresolved baggage. Past hurts can play a huge role in whether the family gathering will be a success or yet another year filled with family drama. Our family therapists suggest that you leave the past in the past when you come into a conversation or interaction with family members this year. Challenge yourself to stay detached from the baggage that you held onto in previous years and start new traditions at your holiday gathering.

6. Perfection Is Not the Norm

It is natural for holiday party hosts and attendees to anticipate perfection when it comes to family gatherings. However, unrealistic expectations of a perfect holiday gathering are not only unhealthy but also dull and impractical. Perfect parties only happen on staged television series; real-life holiday gatherings are complete with disasters, burnt rolls, and drunken relatives. That is what makes a holiday gathering memorable and joyous. If you have this mindset, this holiday season may be much less stressful for you overall. You will be able to navigate through holiday drama far more efficiently and effectively.

7. Be Grateful

Being grateful, according to our family therapists, is the center of ensuring a fantastic holiday season for you and your family. Having gratitude for the people and relationships you have with them will help you avoid any holiday drama that you can foresee on the horizon. Gratefulness can help you have balance in your emotional health, allowing you to be resilient despite any drama that is going on around you. Even if you are the only person that is positive during holiday gatherings, your attitude of gratitude can permeate through other members of your family.

Read: 13 Journal Prompts to Practice Gratitude

Want to get more advice on how you can make this holiday season a great one before you begin your journey home for the holidays? You can contact us at the Grief Recovery Center in Houston, TX for more info today.

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