Some of the Best Ways to Navigate Family Drama During the Holidays

It’s official…the holidays are here!

’Tis the season for plenty of fun festivities, but also all the stress that comes with social interactions – especially when hanging out with family. One of the biggest sources of stress is navigating those awkward interactions during family get-togethers.

Whether it’s the unexpected appearance of your sister’s new boyfriend, political differences, or aggressive post-pandemic reconnect urges, learning how to identify, deal with, and prep for anything your loved ones bring to the table can help you turn a potentially nerve-wracking situation into delightful family memories.

Here are 5 practical ways to navigate family drama this holiday season…

Some of the Best Ways to Navigate Family Drama During the Holidays

  1. The Ex-Factor 

It’s no secret that the current state of the world has been tough on relationships. This year, more than ever, many of your friends and family who are married or in a long-term relationship may be dealing with an unwanted emotional side dish. Whether their ex is physically present or a sting in their heart, helping those who’ve been unlucky in love feel warm and welcome is one of the most caring and selfless things you can do.

Active listening and the gift of empathy can go a long way toward improving your relationship with a friend or family member. They’ll appreciate your gift of understanding far more than a pair of novelty socks.

  1. Build Bridges, Don’t Burn Them 

Connecting with relatives that you haven’t seen in a while can be stressful. It takes time and effort to start from scratch when it comes to a conversation, but the benefits of gratitude, especially toward loved ones, can do wonders for your brain and body health.

Kindness and understanding creates a positive feedback loop that’s beneficial to both you and the receiver. Finding a connection, big or small, is a great way to start the holiday season right with your friends and family.

  1. Know When to Stand Up or Sit Down

Navigate Family Drama 2 Focusing on building connections with relatives that you disagree with can be personally satisfying. But what about the times when you just can’t agree on something?

Whether it’s politics, sports, or even what movie to watch, try to keep yourself on an even keel when it comes to conflict and anticipate times when someone else just isn’t going to budge on a subject.

Using a line like, “We may not see eye to eye on this, but we both love turkey.” This approach lets you express your feelings in a positive way and keeps it non-confrontational by focusing on something relatable.

  1. Take Time for Yourself

You might feel obligated to fill your schedule with family-centric events and activities, especially if you haven’t seen your relatives in a while. Reconnecting is important for all of us, but so is personal headspace and time by yourself.

If you get to a point where you feel your stress rising around the group, feel free to step aside, announced or not. Taking a few minutes, or even hours, to meditate, catch up with a friend, or just chill, can rejuvenate your enthusiasm for family interaction.

  1. Prepare for Potential Conflict

Even the most seasoned performers and public figures don’t show up without rehearsing. This isn’t to say that you need to study a script until you act like a stilted robot in front of your family, but taking ample time to prepare for potential conflicts can alleviate a lot of stress.

Is your uncle still debating the election? Is your cousin obsessed with Fortnite? Is grandma being overly critical of her grandkids?

Addressing the existence of these common conversations can be beneficial and fun. Role-play with yourself in the mirror or enlist a friend, or just get ready to acknowledge differences and find your own way of navigating those potentially awkward or difficult moments.

Season of Caring

This past year has been difficult for all of us socially, so kindness, empathy, and caring seem to hold a lot more importance than they used to. Let’s face it…we all crave connection!

Fortunately, being positive, expressing gratitude, and helping others are good for your overall brain and body health.

Following these helpful tips can help you navigate family drama this holiday season.

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