How to Deal with Difficult People–6 Tips to Enjoy Holiday Family Time

The holidays can be a particularly challenging time of year. Many of us experience altered sleep patterns from daylight savings time, reduced time outdoors with the change of seasons, and an increase in social invitations and family obligations. All of these changes cause stress. This stress may feel manageable, but it is enough to make you irritable. We live with these compounding changes, and then we add more.

We eat foods that we may not usually eat. These foods interrupt our intestinal status quo, so we feel sluggish or bloated. This increases our stress levels and makes it more likely for us to either be irritable or irritating.

Then, to top it all off, we commit to spend hours with people who we may or may not get along with. Happy Holidays.

When you break it down and look at it, it looks like a string of bad decisions. But there’s good news! I’ve put together a quick survival guide just in case you have committed to spending time with relatives that you can’t stand. Here are some quick tips to make your time together enjoyable.

6 Tips to Enjoy Holiday Family Time

  • Breathe. Breathe deeply and breathe often. If someone is particularly annoying you, now is a great time to practice your breathing technique. I find it particularly relaxing to count as I breathe. For example, I think to myself Inhale, two, three, four. Exhale, two, three, four. When you breathe, you will automatically relax. By thinking of something else, you can happily ignore whatever is annoying you.
  • family pictureDon’t argue. Plain and simple, it takes two people to have an argument. If you are determined to have a peaceful holiday, learn how to control yourself. Instead of arguing with someone, try saying things like “I never thought of it that way.” or “Really? I don’t know much about that topic.” If neither of those seem to fit your situation, try deflecting with a compliment like “I love your passion for…”
  • Avoid talking about politics, religion, and other “hot topics.” This really is a good ground rule for any gathering, not just holiday celebrations.
  • Try to avoid extended amounts of time with toxic people. If you have someone who really aggravates you, do your best to limit your time with them. Here’s a link to a post with more information about toxic people.
  • Smile. Smiling will help you feel confident, and it will tell others that you are a good person to spend time with. When people come to talk to you, they are more likely to share your positive energy and less likely to be negative.
  • Don’t judge because you don’t know. Keep in mind that as we grow older and develop our own lives as adults, we don’t know the ins and outs of the lives of our family members anymore. You probably have no idea who has a horrible boss, just broke up with a significant other, has been sick for a week, or a list of other stressful events. You don’t know all the facts, so don’t pass judgement.

I hope these tips help you enjoy this potentially stressful time of year.

Do you have any other tips for surviving the holidays? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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