As we approach the holiday season, many of us are anticipating the family gatherings, the abundance of food and drinks, the gifts, the parties, and quite commonly, the stress! The time between Thanksgiving and New Years Day is often filled with celebration, but can also be filled with stress related to travel, finances, and family obligation.

One of the most common concerns among my clients is how best to manage the familial drama that often characterizes holiday events. Whether it is the competition between siblings, the aunt who drinks too much and overshares, or the general pressure of finding the perfect gift for mom and dad, clients anticipate heading home for the holidays and often feel unprepared. So, what can they do?

 

1. Set Boundaries: It is critical to set boundaries not only with yourself, but with your family members. Remember that setting a boundary does not mean you have to be aggressive or mean, it simply means that you assert yourself so that family members are aware of your limits.

2. Take a break: Family parties can be even more enjoyable if you set a time limit for yourself (and, if applicable, your family). You can set a limit for how long you will stay at the event or how much time you will socialize before you take a break in another area of the home.

3. Focus on the positives: Focus on what is positive in the environment instead of what is nagging at you. Maybe you watch your child’s face light up as they receive a gift they have been wanting, or you engage your grandmother in a conversation because she is easy to talk to-whatever positives you can identify in the environment, attend to them!

If you are interested in learning more about how to cope with holiday stress, or stress in general, feel free to contact me today at eburke@empoweredtherapy.org or 847-505-0889.