Well folks, we’re officially headed into the holiday season! For a lot of reasons, I hope this brings you joy. But that joy usually is closely followed (or preceded) by some stress. And unfortunately, family can be a big part of that stress.
I am thankful for my parents and grandparents and brothers. And I really enjoy spending time with them. But this introvert also has gotten used to living with an introverted roommate.
So when I visit home, I’m excited to see all my family, but then I need space. And I know it can come across as me being annoyed or pushing away, even though I usually don’t have that intention.
And I recognize that for some of you, family is much more of a stressor due to differing beliefs or struggling relationships, and when you’re with a larger group of family, as is usually the case around the holidays, you can feel ganged up on.
So I thought of some ideas to help alleviate some family stress and strengthen relationships during this time.
Check-in and catch up
Usually the holidays are focused around big family gatherings. Even if it’s just you, your parents and your siblings, everyone who is there is present for every moment. Try to take some individual time with each family member. It doesn’t have to be a day, it can just be a morning or afternoon. Or even just a meal.
Use that one-on-one time to catch up on the small things.
Since I don’t live super close to my parents and brothers, I almost always am caught up on the big things happening in our lives, but the smaller things are happening all the time without me telling my family or my family telling me. So get to know what’s been happening in their lives.
Be intentional with your emotions
Next, go into the family gatherings with positive emotions. If you go in feeling angry, jealous, hurt or upset, it likely isn’t going to get better. You’ll probably stay feeling that way throughout the entire meal or gathering. If you need to, ask that some conversation topics be avoided to prevent big disagreements. Try to keep conversations personal, about each person, their job, their life, etc.
Take some individual time for yourself. I’m a morning person, so I naturally wake up earlier than my brothers. When I wake up, I go downstairs and spend some time with the dogs. Meanwhile, my mom drinks her coffee and watches TV in the living room and my dad watches TV in the bedroom. My brothers take their individual times at night, usually playing video games or watching TV. We all just created this habit while we were home and it just helps us to take some time for ourselves since we’re spending the rest of each day together. You might need to let your family know that you just need a time to relax or reflect.
I hope you all have a great upcoming holiday season and that you enjoy the company of whoever you are spending it with!