Surviving Holiday Family Get-Togethers

Although family get-togethers occur all year long for various events such as birthdays and graduation parties, they are more abundant during the holidays – and they can seem more intense. Maybe they carry a bit more stress purely because they occur in greater numbers, giving you more exposure to the family members that test your every ounce of patience, or perhaps it is that you’re generally tenser this time of year, so you start off with a more negative mindset. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear: Surviving family get-togethers isn’t always easy. Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t love your family and wouldn’t trade them for the world. However, this isn’t always the easiest thing to remember when you’re standing face to face with them and they are doing that thing they do that makes you absolutely scream on the inside. So, what can you do to get through this often turbulent time with your sanity intact (and you still in the will)? Here are a few suggestions: Be Realistic When you are 100% realistic with your expectations as to what the holiday get-togethers will be like, you can more adequately prepare for them. It’s like creating a budget. You know exactly how much money you have coming in and going out so it severely limits any surprise attacks for which you are caught off guard and standing there with a deer in the headlights look. Think about your normal get-togethers and you’ll have a good idea of how they are going to go down. Not that you want to work yourself up before you even get there, but going through this exercise will help you take off your rose colored glasses before they suddenly get broken, leaving you unable to see a clear solution. Create a Plan When you don’t have a pre-planned response to certain members of the family who seem to find it difficult to stay on your good side, you will likely respond in a way that is inappropriate and/or ineffective. You may say or do something you regret, which isn’t good for you or them. Therefore, it’s best to have a plan before you even get there as to what you are going to do if (and when) they upset you. Maybe it will include walking away and talking to someone else, or you could position yourself on the opposite side of the room so you have little contact with the person. Think ahead of time about what you can do to minimize the situation that usually unfolds. Have Plan B Some things happen like clockwork and then there are the things that seem to appear out of nowhere and you’re wondering what just happened. Although you can’t plan for everything, you’ll want to have at least one plan B in mind in case your original plan doesn’t quite play out the way it should. For example, maybe you decided that you are going to stay in opposite rooms as your uncle who likes to tell you how your opinion in regard to politics or religion is wrong. What are you going to do if he finds you anyway and starts to open his mouth? Well, if you have plan B in place, your spouse comes in and asks to speak to you, pulling you away from your uncle tactfully and you’re able to breathe. You’ve been saved. Mind Your Eating Not only is food more abundant during holiday get-togethers, it often isn’t of the healthy variety. Add that to some emotional eating to deal with the stress and it can mean that you easily undo all of your hard work to lose weight and get healthy. While it may be tempting to just gorge yourself now to help with the anxiety you feel and deal with the consequences later, later always arrives and it brings with it shame and guilt. You will have to work extra hard to get back where you were when you started and, more importantly, you risk giving up on yourself altogether because you don’t feel you have the strength to do it all over again. An easy way to avoid this is to use the SlimPlate System. Even if you don’t have the plates with you, imagine that you do and choose your foods and portions accordingly. This way you won’t undo your progress and you’ll feel strong and in charge versus weak and vulnerable! You may not be able to control your family’s behaviors, but you can choose to respond to them in a way that allows you to keep your sanity. Follow some or all of these suggestions and you will not only survive your holiday family get-togethers, but you may even learn to like them!