Tips To Help You Cope With Difficult Relationships This Holiday Season

December 4, 2018  |  

Friends celebrating the New Year's Eve

Source: Eva-Katalin / Getty

The holidays can give you that cozy, lovey dovey feeling, or it can send you straight to hell with family drama. For some people, the stretch of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is stressful and triggering, as they are forced to rendez-vous with family members they normally don’t have to interact with.

Navigating those relationships can be difficult and heart-wrenching for many people, but there are some things you can do to prepare for or relieve some of that anxiety.

Melissa Brodrick, MEd, contributor at Harvard, weighed in on some things you can do to help guide you through holiday madness a little more seamlessly.


One way to get over your anxiety is by accepting your family as they are. No, they aren’t going to be a pretty family portrait of love, but no one’s family is. Brodrick says you should manage your expectations by understanding they are, who they are.

“Why set yourself up for disappointment or frustration? Identifying one or two traits that you appreciate about [them]  (okay, one) can help you adopt an attitude of tolerance in your interactions,” Brodrick writes.

Let Yourself Be Curious Versus Confrontational

Unless your family member voted for Trump, there’s no need to waste time trying to convince them to change their stances or views on social or political issues. Yes, it can be frustrating, but you could use these conversations as learning grounds. Sometimes the best way to win a war is to understand the other time.

“Being curious takes a willingness to not be right and to listen simply to understand. Listening takes the discipline and desire to stay in the moment without formulating your rebuttal while another person is talking. It also takes a kind of humility to recognize that you might learn something new. And if you don’t think that’s possible — for you or for others — sometimes a simple “no politics” (or “no whatever-is-too-controversial”) rule is helpful with challenging relationships,” Brodrick explains.

Change The Subject

If you can’t change people and their views, change the content. You can start by guiding conversations that make you comfortable and safe.

Brodrick explains that, “Intentional, light-hearted interruption and redirection may be just what’s needed. Keep the focus on the speaker to minimize the potential that they will feel slighted. “That was a horrid day at the beach. Did I hear you’re planning a trip to Spain in February?”




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