Surviving Holiday Horrors


Photograph courtesy of Alamy

A3GR16 Family arguement over christmas dinner

Ah yes, it is that time of year once again. ‘Tis the season to hear your aunts and uncles fight over politics and who gets to cut the Christmas ham, to be bombarded with questions about the future, boyfriends or girlfriends, and if you have gained any weight recently. Running for cover in your bedroom is a futile practice when the hyperactive younger cousins will only use each other as a battering ram to break your bedroom door down – infiltrating the only sanctuary in a house full of chaos and cliché Pandora playlists – to ask if you have games on your phone. Here are some tips to survive the most horrible aspects of the holiday season, especially stress over relatives.

Practice gratitude and mindfulness. Instead of focusing on all the things that can go (or have gone) wrong, remember why you’re celebrating in the first place. Christmas can be a time for religious commemoration, thoughtful gifts, beautiful traditions, and unity. Hanukkah is a celebration of victory, spiritual miracles, hope, and love. New Year’s Day can serve as an opportunity for insight, radical self-growth, and inspiration. Even if the only positive thing about a holiday celebration to you is the food or presents, being happy about the small things can bring much needed peace in the midst of familial turmoil.

Set boundaries. Some families are more volatile than others, and this tip becomes so much more important for those dealing with high levels of stress from relatives. If you need to go for a walk or have some time to yourself, don’t be afraid to do so. Taking five, ten, or even one hundred minutes to breathe is way better than saying something regrettable in an argument or tearing your hair out. If there’s a relative that you absolutely CANNOT stand, limit the amount of time you spend with them and get rid of any opportunities for accumulated tension. Not everyone can handle hours of sustained small talk or other annoyances, so know your limits and where to draw the line.

Look for more socially acceptable ways to destress. If blatant escapism isn’t your style, there are other methods of reducing social pressure that don’t involve being a complete hermit. If there’s a chance to unwind by playing Super Smash Bros™ in another room with your less spastic teenage cousins, take it. If your relatives have dogs or cats, spend time petting or feeding them. Start light or fun conversations with any family members you actually DO like (if applicable) so that it’s less likely that you’ll be stuck in arguments with, or life choice-centered interrogations from, the ones you don’t.

Lastly, take care of yourself and others. Partying over break does not have to mean getting alcohol poisoning or ending up in a cop car. Have a designated driver and backup plan.