The holiday season is in full swing, as many of us look forward to celebrating Christmas! In fact, according to a poll from Harris Insights and Analytics, Christmas is America’s favorite holiday.

Unfortunately, though, Christmas isn’t beloved by all. Some dread the holiday season instead, as they are forced to spend it with obnoxious, nosy, or needy relatives. If you’re facing this dilemma, follow our tips for dealing with difficult relatives during the holidays:

One, plan ahead. If you have relatives that are notoriously difficult, come up with a plan for how you will navigate your interactions. For example, think about how you might steer conversations with your infamously nosy uncle. Will you venture into conflict or let his intrusive questions roll off your back? Ideally, the plan you come up with will help you to keep the peace and avoid saying or doing something you might regret later.

Two, initiate conversations that bring the family together. There’s nothing worse than conflict during the holidays! Try to avoid topics that might spark an argument amongst family members and focus on topics that will elicit joy or facilitate connection, instead. For example, take turns listing what you’re most grateful for this holiday season.

Three, invent a new family tradition. According to a series of studies published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, traditions make people feel closer to their families, which in turn, makes the holidays more enjoyable. So, come up with a new family tradition that everyone can look forward to, like a cookie bake off, Secret Santa, or a Christmas movie marathon.

Four, focus on the good. It’s easy to let frustration or stress take over when dealing with difficult family members. But instead of pitying yourself this holiday season, redirect your attention to the positive. What is it that you enjoy about this time of year? Maybe it’s the food, the general holiday cheer, or even just time off of work. Whatever it is, bring it to the forefront.

If you have difficult family members in attendance this holiday season, put these 4 tips to the test. They will help you focus on the reason for the season and have a Merry Christmas. 

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is the Content Development Manager at Thriveworks. She devotes herself to distributing important information about mental health and wellbeing, writing mental health news and self-improvement tips daily. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism, with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She is a co-author of Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book and has published content on Thought Catalog, Odyssey, and The Traveling Parent.

Check out “Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book” written by AJ Centore and Taylor Bennett."

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