Skip to main content

Managing stress during family get-togethers

Managing stress during family get-togethers

Family get-togethers over the holidays can be stressful. All of those old childhood wounds can get reopened, and, in some families, new issues are created. Even in families that appear to get along, unvoiced resentments from the past can linger behind a mask of normalcy.

We have a few simple tips to help you relax and enjoy your family this holiday season:

Prepare a "self-care" plan
Decide how long you want to interact with difficult family members and determine your boundaries. One boundary might be for you to stay at a hotel instead of in your family member’s home so that you can have some downtime. Another might be for you to determine what topics you want to avoid.

Practice answers to triggers
You can bet that topics you hope won’t come up, in fact, will. If your cousin is still angry that you inherited your grandmother’s antique pitcher, think ahead about how you will handle it. One way is to “redirect,” which is simply the strategy of changing the topic of conversation. You can also tell your cousin you don’t wish to discuss the issue at this time and then change the subject.

Let go of resentments
Decide what grievances you’ll let go of for the day. Sometimes, being around family requires us to forget about past issues and simply enjoy everyone despite them. It may be worth it to not avoid your brother-in-law, whom you don’t like, if you don’t get much time during the year to enjoy your little nieces and nephews.

Save the big issues for another time. If you need to confront your Aunt Suzy about something that hurt you, address it after the holiday get-together. Remember the holidays are supposed to be about love and peace. You can put the war off for another day.

Practice mindfulness
The reality is, we only have right now. Not dwelling on the past and not worrying about the future can make your holiday celebrations a success. It can also make you a happier person in general. Focus on your needs and what is happening at this very moment and enjoy it.

Have a lifeline
Make plans ahead of time to connect with a friend during the festivities to support each other. Hearing a friendly voice can help you sort out your feelings when you are “triggered.” And processing stress with a friend usually leads to a few therapeutic laughs.

You're not the only one
Remember, others are hurting too. You aren’t the only one feeling stress or getting triggered. It’s a part of many families’ dynamics. Be thoughtful if another family member gets upset or doesn’t live up to your expectations. Keep perspective. You just might find a little humor in some of the less serious gripes that seem to linger over the years.

Set your sites on what you enjoy
Have something to look forward to. After your family celebration, schedule a get-together with friends or part of the family that brings you joy. Knowing that this event is coming up can give you that extra bump to get through time with some of the more difficult personalities.

Family get-togethers are often a mixed bag of emotions. But learning to enjoy family members for whom they are while setting boundaries can make these celebrations some of your favorite times of the year.

Our Customers Say it Best

  • Hexagon Lincoln
    Hexagon Lincoln

    “Hexagon views Continuum EAP as a key business partner and a valued resource for our employee populace. Continuum provides high-quality — and confidential — educational and counseling services for “Team Hexagon.” The professional staff is always available and willing to help at a moment’s notice.”
    - Matt Becker, Human Resources Manager, Hexagon Lincoln

  • NebraskaLand National Bank
    NebraskaLand National Bank

    “Continuum has been such a great benefit for NebraskaLand National Bank. Once a month we offer employees a “Lunch ‘N Learn” where we feature a Continuum HelpNet webinar and provide lunch. We have received great feedback from employees and attendance continues to increase each month.”
    - Stacey Dawkins, Human Resources, NebraskaLand National Bank

  • Lincoln Electric System
    Lincoln Electric System

    “Continuum is a great resource for LES. They proactively provide workshops to address issues in today's work environment and customized on-site training. Their staff has been helpful and effective.”
    - Julie Panko Haberman, supervisor, Learning & Development, Lincoln Electric System

  • Duncan Aviation

    "We look to Continuum as a strategic partner, in helping our employees cope with stress at work and at home, which leads to improved work performance, decreased absenteeism, and greater workforce retention."
    - Leon Holloway, Team Member Services Manager, Duncan Aviation

  • Assurity Life Insurance
    Assurity Life Insurance

    "Continuum is part of Assurity's high performance culture. Trust has been created for associates who use their services for personal life issues but also for work issues whether they refer themselves or a supervisor refers them. Continuum's expertise demonstrated by all staff aligns to our mission and values and helps associates understand there are resources available for them and their families. The value the Assurity Team receives from Continuum is a measure of performance and risk management. I have worked with them for over 20 years and would choose them over the other two employee assistance programs that I have worked with."
    - Jan Zoucha, Assurity Life Insurance

  • NE State College System
    NE State College System

    "The Nebraska State College System has been very pleased with the services we've received from Continuum. Continuum's experience and expertise have served our employees and College administrators very well. Continuum is extremely responsive and skilled at coaching, consulting, and providing a variety of employee assistance services. In addition, our employee feedback from training sessions has been very positive."
    - Kristen Petersen, General Counsel & Vice Chancellor, NE State College System

Powered by Firespring