Managing Tense Family Relationships During the Holidays

The festive season is well and truly upon us and for most people, this can bring up a wide range of mixed emotions! What some might consider a fun, enjoyable period, others might think of as a nightmare. Despite our hopes and best efforts, sometimes it is beyond challenging to have a stress-free holiday season with the family.

Whether or not you have great relationships with the people you spend the holidays with, we could all use some tips on how to get through tense interactions with family members during this stressful time of year. Read on for some tips on how to manage tense family relationships during the holidays.

Prepare yourself – your family will push your buttons

Our families know us better than anyone and this can be both a blessing and a curse! Whether someone close to you brings up an embarrassing moment or says something they know will make you tick, it’s important to realise that the festive season can bring out the worst traits in some people. 

When this happens, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you can’t control what others do or say, however you can control how you react in these types of situations. It can be helpful to set boundaries with people and, if necessary, try to let this person know that they are close to crossing a boundary or remove yourself from the conversation. Leaving a party or family gathering is also a valid way to look after yourself.

Be gentle with yourself

Often the festive season can make feelings of sadness, regret and loneliness surface for many people. Times of togetherness can intensify emotional feelings about people who may no longer be with us.

Be gentle with yourself. Acknowledge your feelings (or those of others around you) and then reflect on why they have surfaced. Talk it out with someone that you trust, like your therapist or try to be open with your family about how you are feeling. 

Be compassionate

This is important throughout the whole year, but especially during this overwhelming and stressful time. At the end of the day, it is crucial to realise that everyone is doing the best that they can, and also, that not everyone has good emotional awareness

Acknowledge that it’s okay to have differing views and know that your views are just as valid as theirs. Self-compassion is as important as compassion for others. 

If there are specific people who disappoint you or you consistently disagree with, try to understand what they have gone through in their life and why they might have a different perspective from you. Opinions are not facts and are often scaffolded by life experiences.

Have a support buddy

Hopefully, you have at least one person in your family that you can look to across the table and share a knowing glance. 

But if you don’t have one of these people to share the family chaos with, make a plan to check in with a friend after the family celebrations to compare notes. It helps to have someone else to laugh, commiserate or cry with.

Don’t compare yourself to what you see on social media

We will say this time and time again, but please do not compare other people’s social media accounts to your life. 

Not only are you not being fair to yourself, but you’re also doing more harm than good. Resist the urge to compare your real-life struggles to the scripted, edited, filtered and seemingly perfect world on the screen.

Remember to be grateful for what you have

There is always something to be grateful for; a home-cooked meal, a roof over your head or even a lovely sunny day. Gratitude helps us to appreciate all of the things that we have and can help us focus on the positives.

How we can help you navigate the holiday season at Haven Psychology

The most important thing to remember is to take good care of yourself during this busy time of year.

Whether you want to discuss some more personal, in-depth strategies on how to manage tense family relationships, you’re dealing with grief or you’re feeling lonely and would like to speak to someone, the team at Haven Psychology are here for you. 

Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment here, or phone our friendly team on 07 3368 1537.

From the whole team at Haven Psychology, we wish you and yours a restful and gentle holiday season.

Post a comment

Have a question?