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Holidays can be really wonderful times, but they can certainly be stressful. Through a bunch of people who are a little more stressed than normal in a house together, and chaos can ensue! I’ve certainly had my share of stressful moments of holidays, so I thought I would pass on a few pieces of wisdom I’ve gathered over the years, both from personal experiences and through experiences as a counselor.

  1. Do something together. Too much time sitting around aimlessly can lead to an increase in awkward conversation or useless bickering. Sometimes getting out of the house for a set activity can be really helpful. Plus, it can cut down on forced conversation!
  2. Exercise and find some way to move everyday! Go for a walk, head to a local gym, or do a workout video. Remember, as Elle Woods says in Legally Blonde: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy…” Get your daily dose of endorphins to help decrease some of the stress (plus it can give you a break from your family)!
  3. Use your “no”. Remember that just because you share genetic material, it doesn’t require that you share all sorts of personal information. It’s ok to not share information you aren’t comfortable sharing. Maybe your family member isn’t safe or trustworthy, and it wouldn’t be healthy to share with them! If they continue to badger you, it’s ok to walk away!
  4. You can’t control other people. You CAN control yourself. We can’t control those around us, but we can control ourselves, and we are responsible for ourselves. We get control of our behaviors and thoughts, which means that we’re not completely helpless! Don’t waste energy trying to control others (that just leads to frustration and stress), but don’t allow others to control you either! Just because someone, for example, tries to make you feel guilty, it doesn’t mean you need to accept the guilt.
  5. Engage in healthy living behaviors and coping. When we get stressed, it’s easy to use alcohol, food, sleep, or something else to cope. While it might seem to help at the time, it’s not really all that healthy. Engaging in healthy behaviors to cope will keep you healthy!

These aren’t the only things to do, of course, when tough situations arise with family members. However, these are a few things that help maintain overall health when we encounter certain stressful situations! I’m planning to do another edition of this before Christmas, so stay tuned:)

Now it’s your turn to share! What do you do to stay sane when you’re around difficult family members (immediate or extended)? 

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to take the role of a mental health counselor. Sometimes we get into unhealthy patterns with our family, and it’s important to get help so we don’t continue that pattern later in life. If you feel like you are stuck in an unhealthy pattern, please seek out someone like a counselor who can help you with this!