During the holidays, we have a lot of opportunities to be around difficult people and have difficult relationships. Some may feel dread or anxiety in wondering how they will handle a complicated relationship. There are so many wonderful activities to attend, such as plays, concerts, parties, and family events, but instead of being exciting, they can quickly become dreadful.
When thoughts of the holidays bring dread.
Often when we have a challenging family relationship, we expect we will have to deal with it during the holidays, we can have thoughts such as how can I get through these events? How can I be excited when I know that person will be there? How can I enjoy the holidays when I know that someone is all about causing drama? Why can’t I be excited about the holidays like everyone else? These can make it difficult to be excited about or enjoy the upcoming holiday season.
First, you need to remember that you have a choice.
While the holiday season can be filled with many expectations, family traditions, and beautiful opportunities. However, it can also be a season for increased stress and anxiety, knowing that you will have to deal with these difficult people. You must remember you can make the choices that are best for you. You don’t need to attend every event. While not everyone may like or support your decisions, you can choose what is best for you.
What can I do when I feel anxious about upcoming events?
If an event brings anxiety due to past experiences, take a few moments to reflect on what made this event difficult in the past. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Can I determine what about this event was so hard for me? Was it the type of event or the person at the event that caused it?
Has anything changed about the event or the people who will be there?
Do you think that your approach to dealing with the event or the hard relationships at the event may have changed?
Are you feeling mentally and emotionally strong and will you be able to handle complicated relationships so that you can embrace boundaries if needed?
Deciding not to attend an event this year does not mean you will never attend again. Sometimes a little break is exactly what we need. If you decide to move forward here are some tools that may help as you prepare for some of those more difficult relationships.
What can I do if I decide to go to make things better?
If you are at your best, you will be able to navigate your interactions with difficult people better. Continue the self-care practices you do before and during this season. Here are a few things that might be helpful:
Stay well rested. Being exhausted and cranky makes it even harder to deal with difficult people.
Staying active releases stress, anxiety, and frustrations, and increases feel-good endorphins.
Choose healthy food as much as possible, while leaving a little room to enjoy the wonderful foods of the season.
Know what works for you when you need a little break from stressful situations or difficult people. Practice deep breaths when you feel stress and frustration rising. It is OK to take a break and excuse yourself for a little while. Take a walk, get some fresh air on the porch, or do whatever you need to do to rejuvenate yourself.
Adjusting your attitude can help when we go into what could be a problematic event or time with a difficult person. Often, we feel that we need to go into battle prepared. Being prepared is beneficial; however, what if your preparation is more about how you can interact in a healthy, more peaceful way while being prepared to keep your boundaries and not get drawn into their drama instead of being ready to defend or attack? What would that look like for you?
Choosing to have realistic expectations. If that difficult person is always critical of you, it may be better to expect them to be critical. You may also choose to limit how much time you spend with them or choose ahead of time not to allow criticism to hold weight with you.
What do I do when a difficult person is in my family?
So often our hard relationships are with a family member. So, what can I do if that is what I am struggling with? What do I do when it is a family event, and I want to participate, but this family member makes it so difficult?
If your sister (or whoever is difficult) has always been difficult at family gatherings, it can be hard not to be a little anxious when thinking about Christmas Eve with the family. Sometimes the more we think about past experiences, the more anxious we can become about upcoming, similar situations. Here are some tools that may help you as you prepare to go:
What if this year, you decide to acknowledge that yes, she is difficult, and these gatherings seem to bring out the worst in her? Just acknowledging these facts without any explanation, justification, or attempt to fix We cannot change someone else’s behavior nor are we responsible for their behavior. This step can bring a sense of relief and a release of the expectation that we can change her or how she may behave. We can also try to smooth it over for others.
As soon as we accept the facts, we must ask ourselves what can I do differently to not be swayed by her behavior or allow it to interfere with our family time. How can you enjoy your family time without letting your sister take all the enjoyment away?
- Can you help with other tasks away from her?
Could you go a little early or stay a little late to spend time with the rest of the family without her being there?
Can you set boundaries with her and not allow her to pull you into her drama? That might mean excusing yourself, taking deep breaths, changing the subject, or limiting your time directly with her if possible.
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- Contact Upstate Restorative Counseling
- Meet with a caring therapist in Greenville, SC
- Start addressing the mental health concerns affecting you most!
Other Services Offered with Upstate Restorative Counseling in Greenville, SC
Our team understands that you may experience other mental health concerns. This is why we are happy to offer support with various mental health services in-person and online. We are happy to offer support including therapy for depression, trauma, anxiety, life transitions, and resolving relationship issues, and support across the state via online therapy.