Surviving the Holidays


Well, it’s that time of year…the holidays are approaching which means spending time with family. Being a mental health professional and coming from a family of dysfunction, my heart and thoughts often go out to those from families with dysfunction, drama, and trauma. Unlike the old movies, for many, the holidays are a time of dread, frustration, sadness, and tears. If this is you, I hope that the following blog will help make your holidays more tolerable this year.

One of the most helpful things that I have learned is realizing that I have no control over people, places, or things. The only person that I have control over is myself and how I react to things. Examine what you do have control over during the holidays ( For me, I make a plan for when I am going to spend time with my family. First, I alleviate as much stress as possible ahead of time. I practice deep breathing and think of ways I can de-stress if needed. For example, making an excuse to get out and go somewhere, like the grocery store. I take this opportunity to take a drive and distract myself. I have a friend that I text and she provides support and humor.

Before the gathering, identify what triggers you. What are some coping skills you can practice to reduce anger, hurt, and other strong emotions (

I’m not sure where I would be without humor. Laughter is an excellent stress buster (

Create and set clear boundaries. An article on, suggests setting a time limit for how long you can tolerate spending time with various family members. You could have a friend call you at a certain time to provide you with an easy exit when you have reached your limit. Another suggestion is to have a car (your own or a rental, if needed) so you aren’t dependent on a family member for transportation, in case you need to get away and take a break (

I hope this blog is helpful. Feel free to share your own ways of coping with the holidays. Have a safe Thanksgiving!

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