As many enjoy the Christmas and New Year holidays, some of us could spend time with family; maybe ours, our in-laws’ or someone else’s. But our closest relatives may not always offer true kinship, our closest relatives may not always be the dearest, and our blood relatives make our blood boil.
Any time families get together, there is a chance for tension to build. Long-term resentments, unresolved arguments, unexpressed concerns or sustained judgments, it’s not always easy to be around families. And then there are those of us who might have chosen, for our mental well-being, to distance ourselves from our families or distance ourselves by choice.
Families come in many different forms.
Our family relationships can have profound impact on health and well-being. Being able to identify with our family can provide us with emotional and practical support that can help us face life’s challenges and lack of family support can have negative effects psychologicallyleaving us potentially more susceptible to the life difficulties or pressures. And if a family is facing financial pressures, as many may be considering the cost of living crisis, this can particularly affect their Mental health and its relationships. with each other too.
Family relationships, whether experienced positively or negatively, affect our well-being throughout our lives. Even if we grew up with healthy attachment to caregiversWe can still experience stressful times during the holidays or otherwise.
Whether marital, intergenerational, or sibling relationships, connecting with others influences our well-being. Predictably it is the Quality of family relationships that helps us have better mental health.. Not only social status, different financial pressuresDifferent life choices or old resentments cause tension, but the effect of family composition can also have an effect on children’s mental health.
If you’re dreading family dinner this year, here are some tips on how to come with your difficult families for Christmas:
Ten ways to deal with difficult families:
- If you have a difficult relationship with your family, support from your friends can be helpful. Friends are the family we choose for ourselves and spend Quality time with friends is positively associated. to life satisfaction and mental well-being.
- Take time for yourself. Whether you need to go for a walk regularly, take some time in the garden, offer to take the dog for a run, or take a deep breath in the bathroom, taking a break from others is helpful.
- Remember that you are not your family. It is useful and healthy to separate ourselves as much as we can from the entanglement that can be tempting when we are around family. Old habits, behaviors we thought we’d outgrown, and emotions we thought we’d processed can surface when we’re around family. Getting away physically or emotionally can help us untangle ourselves from old patterns.
- Remember that it is a limited amount of time and, as soon as you can, make time for self-care.
- It may not be easy to feel autonomous during times of great tradition, such as Christmas. It is known that autonomy is positive for our well-being. We may want to make our own rules, do our own things, but breaking with tradition may seem like it could cause indignation among the family and the threat of being expelled. Trying some way to affirm ourselves, with respect to those around us, will demonstrate respect towards ourselves.
- Express limits to your family. There may be topics you don’t want to discuss or activities you don’t want to participate in. Being clear from the beginning about what you will and will not tolerate in a clear, non-confrontational way can help us assert ourselves and encourage a healthier life. communication styles.
- Avoid alcohol. If tensions are simmering just below the surface, then getting drunk is not the answer. Alcohol can often flow freely at this time of year and it can be tempting to numb our feelings or dissociate ourselves from the use of a drink or several. But not only alcohol has health consequences., can reduce the inhibitions that lead us to say something we may later regret. While we cannot control whether other people drink, we can choose to consider how much alcohol we consume, if any.
- Being alone at Christmas may still be considered “sad” by some, but we don’t have to see it that way. This in itself is another type of stigma. Choosing to spend time with ourselves, taking care of our well-being, enjoying the peace and quiet we so need, whether alone or with people who love us for who we really are, can be a mentally healthier choice.
Read more information about how to cope with Christmas stress in our article here.