Monday, June 3, 2013

Surviving the holidays if you are visiting family

1. Keep it simple.

Survival is the key word here. If it’s always a nightmare and you can’t get out of the family plans, minimize your time with them.  Make a plan before you attend.  Make other plans so that you can leave early or arrive late.  You don’t have to spend the entire holiday with them.  The less time you have to be on your best behavior the better and the easier surviving the holidays will be.

2.  Perspective.

It’s important to accept that you can’t change your relatives.  You only have control over you.  It’s best not to have high expectations of difficult people. Avoid getting pulled into conversations that you know won’t go well.

3.  Have a few standard answers.

How’s work?  Have one positive story you can tell about work.  If you are single and you are tired of people asking you “So what’s going on in your love life?”  Have a standard answer.  Smile and say very little.  Walking away or excusing yourself to go to the bathroom when someone just refuses to let you change the subject works.  If one person is the problem, focus on everyone else.  Just remember to stay calm.  Take a chilly walk if necessary. Hang out with the kids.  Have a long chat with a favorite cousin. Or rent a movie and watching it together.  Movies create a common bond that facilitates surviving the holidays in a peaceful manner.

4. Your time is limited.

Remember, if all else fails, that you don’t live with all these people all the time.  The evening or weekend will end.  Tomorrow will come.  This will be in the past and life will go back to normal.

5.  Plan an escape route.

If the thought of a party, family gathering, or other “mandatory” social event leaves you knotted up with anxiety, plan ahead for some “escape time” for yourself.

No matter where you are, if you are suddenly feeling overwhelmed with anxiety, claustrophobia, or simply more emotion than you feel safe showing in public, seek out the nearest restroom and stay inside until you have mentally gathered yourself together.

The bathroom is a simple solution that is always available.  It gives you privacy to take a few deep breaths, try to calm down, and mentally reevaluate your situation enough to decide if you think you really can calm down, or if you really need to tell the host or leader of the party or social event that you are not feeling well and need to go home.

Sometimes surviving the holidays means allow yourself to escape when you need to.


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