“My Extended Family Drives Me Crazy!” How to Guard & Protect Your Holiday Spirit
It’s hard to keep your emotions in check when extended family gatherings go south yet again. Learn how to avoid the holiday spiral with these self-soothing strategies.
Q: “How do I survive being with my extended family over the holiday season with my sanity and emotions intact?”
The Hollywood image of a happy family celebrating the holidays — laughing, eating, and sharing an oversized bowl of popcorn while watching a classic movie — rarely looks like real life. In the real world, extended family members may offer unsolicited advice, pass judgment, and dismiss your needs, which can trigger emotional dysregulation.
Practice self-control. To avoid spiraling when you’re triggered, think about what you can control. For example, is there a place you can go to escape, like outside or into another room?
Phone a friend. Pre-plan to message a friend with a code word that signals you need her help. When she calls or texts in response, you can excuse yourself to listen or respond to the message.
Learn to self-soothe. Develop ways to calm yourself, even in the midst of holiday chaos. Here are some ideas:
- Create a playlist of your favorite songs on your phone.
- Add inspirational quotes to your phone that you can easily access and repeat to yourself.
- Do triangle breathing: Inhale for four counts, hold for four counts, and exhale for six.
- Silently recite phrases, such as, “May I be happy. May I be peaceful and at ease.”
Protect Your Holiday Spirit: Next Steps
- Download: How to Prioritize This Holiday Season
- Read: Happy Holidays, Really!
- Read: Beating the Holiday Blues
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