It is important to lay a good foundation in your mind before entering into situations that will cause you to stress. If you’ve ever hosted a holiday meal or even been tasked with preparing a dish for your family’s celebration, you know that preparation is key.
Here are a few reminders before you sit down at your next holiday meal or family gathering:
1. Realize that the only thing you can control is how you react.
-This is true, not only for the holidays and being around family, but for everyday life. Practicing this will not only help how you respond to your family and uncomfortable topics that they might bring up, but how you respond to the world.
-Protecting yourself against the family members that you are most adverse to counts as a positive reaction as well. Taking action beforehand to make sure that interaction with this person is limited is a positive thing. It does not make you a bad person if you choose to not interact with certain people.
2. Prepare yourself, physically and emotionally.
-Whether you deeply enjoy spending time with your family or not, stress and emotions will be at play when all of you are together. Feelings can be extra difficult to combat, especially if your family has experienced a recent loss; even an addition in the form of a new child or new spouse can cause tension.
-Make time for yourself before meeting your family. Write down your feelings, plan how you will react to predictable actions, and participate in a relaxing hobby before going.
3. Set time aside for yourself.
-Whether it means leaving the room for a moment by yourself or leaving the meal early, you know your own limits. Rather than push yourself further, realize that it’s ok to step back and re-evaluate the situation.
4. Hot topics and disagreements?
-You know which family members will get heated when a specific topic gets brought up. Steer clear of anything that could head in the direction of those topics. If they get brought up, have another topic ready to speak about with others at the table, or simply do not react to the topic that is being presented.
5. Realize that even amidst the stress, these are times that you will want to remember.
-Once again, the only thing that is a controllable variable is how you react. Finding the bright spots in your time together is key because those are the ones you will want to remember.
-Go into the situation with the intention of making it a positive experience.