Difficult Relationships over the Holidays

Bridget Leschinsky

19 November 2021

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Difficult Relationships Over The Holidays

The holidays are approaching and this can bring out the best, and the worst in people. Couples that are contemplating divorce are already in a whirlwind of emotions dealing with a strained relationship. The stress of the holidays can cause additional tension to the whole family.  So how do you deal with difficult relationships over the holidays?

Dealing with a strained relationship doesn’t just apply to troubled marriages. Most people have to cope with at least one person, over the holidays, that can be difficult to be around and create tension. The strained relaitonship could be a relative, friend, neighbor or co-worker. Any relationship that leaves you feeling sad, worried, anxious or angry can be hard to manage. Feelings are powerful and if you are feeling frustrated and angry, others will feel that too.

So what can you do to maintain your joy and deal with difficult relationships over the Holidays? Here are some tips to help maintain your joy.

Be prepared: Identify the people that tend to upset you and try to understand the fundamental reason why they are triggering. It’s good to acknowledge how you feel. Once you have identify the person who upsets you and why, you will be better prepared to deal with that person.

Accept people for who they are: If you get upset and call someone out on their bad behavior that will cause stress and make things worse. Confrontation can turn into a power struggle and cause defensiveness. You can only control your reaction.

Try to see the best in people: Identify at least one positive aspect of the person who you struggle with and focus on that positive trait. Perhaps you can repeat the positive trait over and over to yourself, like a mantra, when you start to feel your emotions escalating. 

Set boundaries: Restrict the time you spend with a difficult person. Set a couple hours to just have dinner. If you are traveling from out of town you can stay at a hotel vs their house. 

Take a time out: Distance yourself and minimize interactions with the person. Go outside, or to a different area of the house to take a break. Take at least three deep Breaths (inhale 3 seconds, exhale 3 seconds), and visualize a place or something that brings you joy.

Take care of yourself: Throughout the holiday season it’s important to take care of yourself. Getting enough sleep is important, don’t skip meals, focus on things you love to do: go for a walk, exercise, read, take a bath, spend time with your animals, watch a movie, do things you enjoy.

Remember the time spent with a difficult relationship during the holiday is only temporary. You can take steps to maintain a positive mindset so you can make the most of your time and enjoy your holiday.

Photo by Becca Tapert
Bridget Leschinsky is a CDC Certified Divorce Coach®

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