Family visits during the holidays often add that extra load of stress. Whether your family is a source of love and support or a complicated, painful web of relationships – we can never underestimate the power of the family to unseat us and stress us out. It is easy to be seduced by holiday longing for family and believe, maybe, just maybe -this time will be different. The fantasy of the family being there for us can take over – sometimes it is just that members of the family want to see us SO MUCH – the obligations, guilt and heavy expectations can all be confusing. It makes it so hard to know then -what is the reality for us really?. Do our needs get met or not? So it is hard to take care of ourselves – to evaluate what we need and not get lost in THE FAMILY.
How to cope? My suggestion is be sure to make time for yourself. Consider maybe you don’t have to stay over in the same house. That little bit of space can mean alot. Also taking time-outs away from the family can clear your head and help keep you sane. Things like going out for a walk, run or even an errand by yourself or with just one other close person can be a life saver. Also plan to have other people away from your family available for support by phone. Then be prepared ahead of time – thinking through contingency plans when things may get bad (especially if they have in the past). Also remember that a short visit when you’re longing for more is better than a long visit where you end up thinking “never again”. And try not to feel guilty about your negative thoughts -so many of us love our families but they do drive us crazy…
With all this in mind, do your best to truly have a Happy Holiday!
Marlena Kushner, MFT


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