Tips on how to manage holidays with family members who have opposing viewpoints

This is a strange time for holiday gatherings especially with numbers of COVID 19 cases on the rise around the country. I know some are taking precautions, getting COVID tested and quarantining to try and keep safe before seeing family members.

In addition to the pandemic, there is a lot of division in this country. The hardest part is when your own family members are divided on political issues, political parties or issues, or have differing beliefs about the pandemic. How do you manage these gatherings so they don’t turn into arguments increasing your stress level further?

1. Have a signal with those you arrive with that its time to go so that only your immediate family members know that you have had enough. This can help give you an "out" and relieve the stress that you don't have any control in the situation.

2. Limit time at the family gathering. I remember as a kid we would stay at my grandparents from late morning until early evening and it bored me to tears! Staying this long when dealing with difficult family members can increase levels of stress and make the day seem never ending. Knowing you are only staying for like 3 hours can help ease the burden and make it more tolerable.

3. Allow yourself a break when you need it. Take a brief walk or sit outside by yourself if your difficult family member is starting to grate your nerves. This can clear you mentally so you are better equipped to keep going.

4. Set boundaries with your family ahead of time. If talking about you’re the election with your Aunt causes you anxiety tell her its not something you feel comfortable discussing today. I remember one family gathering the host made it clear "no religion or politic discussions are allowed" this made it easier to navigate with these clear expectations.

5. Watch your self-talk, if a family member says things that are hurt ful, its important to not take it to heart and believe it must be true! You may want to confront this person after the gathering but remind yourself just because your Uncle criticizes you for not going to college doesnt make you a bad person. Remind yourself you are finding your own way.

6. Practice deep breathing and some meditation preventatively before the family event to keep yourself in a calmer state as you arrive. You don't want to arrive already tense and stressed out. This will help you to be less reactive.

7. Consider having an activity with family like watching a holiday movie or going for a walk together instead of just hanging out and talking the wjhole day. This can help prevent some difficult interactions and help keep things "Light."

Its never easy when division exists in your own family or close friends. Its important to take cre of yourself when around them and find some common ground (if possible) on other interests or topics of conversation. It can take a lot of patience to get through and disengage from disagreements but necessary. Remember to reward yourself after with some relaxation time and communal time with others who are supportive of you!

If you are someone you know are struggling with managing stress, anxiety or depresison, help is available! Reach out today at 984-500-2021 for a free 20 minute consultation.