8 Tips To Keep You Sane This Holiday Season
For those of us lucky enough to have a loving family we (thankfully) don’t live close to, the holidays are prime time for traveling at high financial cost to see them. However, the emotional cost can be even higher. No matter how loving a family may be, the holidays are often rife with repeated frustrations, acute depression, generalized anxiety, renewed sibling rivalry, exposed alcoholism, binge eating, underlying tension, drunken accusations, drunken confessions, all-out brawls, stony silence, and tears in your childhood bedroom, which, incidentally, is the name of my new band. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to beat the drama and keep your head above water this holiday season.
- Bring a Friend! Be it a romantic partner, best friend, or casual work acquaintance, the mere presence of an outsider can help keep the pot lid tightly in place. If (let’s be honest- When) the pot ultimately boils over, at least you have someone to lift your spirits or help you escape. Just know you may lose this person as a friend or lover depending on how crazy your family is. But at least you won’t have to blame yourself- this one is definitely all your family’s fault!
- Know Your Limits! Everyone has a threshold of how much family time they can take. My family, for instance, is a ticking time bomb that usually takes about three days to detonate. So if I were a wiser person I would book a trip for three days. I usually go for a week. Which brings me to #3.
- Learn From Your Mistakes! When we are thrust back into our families, we are unconsciously thrust back into the role we played when we were growing up. You know everyone’s buttons. As a child you used to delight in pushing them. And now you are an adult, so act like one, goddammit! Stop repeating your part of the crazy family pattern. This includes not letting them push your buttons, because you are a calm Zen garden filled with pure love and compassion. Which brings me to #4.
- Be Prepared! Before your trip you should do everything in your power to be ready for the family battlefield. Go on a yoga retreat, start meditating or seeing a therapist like you said you were going to do 10 years ago, do a juice cleanse. (While this may make you hangry at the time, you will be so grateful to be eating pie again you won’t even notice that your aunt and uncle got divorced for at least two days!)
- Go in Guns Blazing! Let’s be honest, sometimes that #4 shit ain’t gonna cut it. Make a list of everything you are angry about and every elephant in every room, EVER. Put on your leather jacket, walk into your parents’ house, pour yourself a nice tall glass of whisky, light up a cigarette IN THE HOUSE, exhale in your grandma’s face (She’s responsible for all this anyway, right?) and start rattling off your list. For even greater effect, do this at the dinner table when as many family members as possible are present. If you survive the day, I guarantee you’ll feel better. You may not even have to go home for the holidays again next year!
- Don’t Drink! Oftentimes, our problems and tensions become magnified when we drink. Drunk fights are never productive, and crying yourself to sleep with your head in the toilet is the least restful sleep I can think of. Especially if your family are big drinkers, it might be wise to lay off the sauce and let them fight it out while you watch and laugh from the top of your “I’m not getting into it” wagon.
- Drink Heavily! If not drinking is not an option, do the opposite! Drink to the point of blackout and it’s like this Christmas never happened! Let them take all the pictures they want of you curled up naked with the cat under the Christmas tree and post them on Facebook, if you don’t remember it, it’s all hearsay.
- Don’t Go Home! Sometimes nothing works and that’s ok! Let all of the stress caused by family drama, pressure, and obligation fade into the background by just pretending they don’t exist. If they don’t you’re even one step closer to a blissfully selfish and indulgent holiday season jam-packed with or completely devoid of activities. No matter what you do, it’s reassuring to know that you’ve chosen it all by yourself, all for yourself. Enjoy the silence!