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Surviving the relatives over the holidays

The holidays are supposed to be a happy time, but spending so much time with one’s relatives can sometimes be trying. Getting through the season calls for some smart people-management strategies.

Holiday survival strategies
family eating Christmas dinner

We often think of the holidays as cheerful times to be with our loved ones and families, but as many of us experience year after year, spending so much time together (especially if you’re cooped up in a small house with everyone in your family tree for days on end) can prove to be stressful, and you may find yourself getting irritated, miffed or even full of rage. Make this year different by using some smart strategies that’ll help you sail through the holiday season with a smile on your face.

Manage expectations

You’re a confident woman in your day-to-day life, but once you head home to your parents’ house and Mom and Dad treat you like a child, it’s like you’ve reverted back to being a little girl. It’s time to make your parents aware you’re a grown-up who has her own opinions and runs her own life. Don’t let your mother guilt-trip you into performing a list of obligations if they go against your beliefs. Be firm, and have a conversation about what you’re comfortable doing. Be clear that this doesn’t mean you don’t love her but that you hope she can accept your decision. Doing this just might forge your relationship dynamic into a healthy new direction.

Limit time with relatives you’re not crazy about

Your cousin has a habit of making passive-aggressive comments that always get under your skin. And you know that after a few drinks your aunt will start ranting about politics and that tempers will fly. So plan ahead, and ensure your time with these relatives is limited. Make a movie date so you have a reason to cut out from the get-together early. Should you be faced with a situation that will surely lead to your getting irritated (that question of why you’re still single, for example), be the master of deflection: Have a few news topics in mind so you can easily change the conversation to something else, or volunteer to get another bottle of wine so you can step out of the room, cutting the conversation short.

Plan on you-time for stress relief

Don’t fill your calendar with party after party and dinner after dinner. Making time for yourself so you can take a breather and burn off some stress is crucial. So schedule in your gym workouts or a spa visit — whatever will help you decompress from the craziness of the holiday season.

More holiday articles

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Get ready for Christmas now: 4 tips

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