The holidays are a wonderful time of year. A time to spend with family, friends, and loved ones. But if you’re someone who often feels overwhelmed by large gatherings, the holidays can also be a source of stress. If you’re dreading your upcoming Christmas celebration, never fear! We’ve got some tips to help you get through it.
1. Set realistic expectations.
The holidays are often portrayed as this perfect, idyllic time of year. In reality, they can be hectic, chaotic, and downright stressful. If you go into your family gathering expecting everything to be perfect, you will be disappointed. Instead, focus on the day’s positive aspects and let the rest go.
An excellent way to do this is by focusing on the family members who are a source of joy and peace for you. You can also plan activities that will help keep the day light-hearted and fun. Don’t forget to take breaks throughout the day, too. These moments of respite will help you keep your energy up and be more present with your family.
2. Look your best.
Fussy family members can really bring down the mood of a holiday gathering. To help keep your own spirits up, take some time to get dressed in an outfit that makes you feel confident and comfortable. Clothes that fit well, flatter your body type, and make you feel good will give you more confidence when dealing with the tough stuff.
Don’t forget about hygiene, either. Schedule a visit to your dental clinic before the big day so that you can show off your best smile. Bathe, style your hair, and apply light makeup if that is something you enjoy. Doing these things will help keep you feeling empowered and secure.
3. Make a plan.
Trying to wing it on the day of your Christmas gathering is a recipe for disaster. Sit down a few days before and make a game plan. Who will you sit next to at dinner? What will you wear? What dishes will you bring? Having everything mapped out ahead of time will help reduce your stress levels on the day of the event.
Try to set a realistic timeline for the day, too. This will give you and your family structure, which can be particularly helpful if young children are present. Don’t forget to include time for fun activities, like opening presents or playing games together. If your family tends to go off-schedule, then make sure to include some wiggle room in your plan to account for it.
4. Bring a friend.
If attending a family gathering alone is too much to bear, invite a friend or two for moral support. Having someone to lean on (literally and figuratively) will make the whole experience much more bearable—and might even be fun! You can also ask your friends to help you out with tasks like setting up, cleaning up, or running errands.
If you don’t have any close friends in the area, consider reaching out to a stranger. Perhaps there is someone who could use some company for the holidays as well. They might even be able to offer some valuable advice about dealing with difficult family members. Just make sure to set boundaries beforehand so that you don’t get taken advantage of.
5. Limit your alcohol intake.
It’s tempting to turn to alcohol as a way to ease social anxiety, but in reality, it will only make things worse. Alcohol is a depressant, so it’s likely to leave you feeling more anxious and stressed. Stick to one drink or abstain completely—you’ll be glad you did when the night is over. You’ll also be able to stay focused on the task at hand rather than getting distracted by drinks.
Plus, avoiding alcohol will give you more energy to deal with any problems that may arise during the gathering. You’ll be more alert and better able to think quickly, which can help you resolve conflicts and keep the day from spiraling out of control. Don’t underestimate the power of a clear head and good judgment!
6. Give yourself some space.
There will inevitably be moments during the course of the evening when you feel overwhelmed or claustrophobic. When that happens, excuse yourself for a few minutes and take some time to yourself in another room. Grab a book, step outside for some fresh air—do whatever you need to regroup and recharge.
Many people find it helpful to have a mantra or two prepared for such occasions. Repeating a positive phrase to yourself can help you stay in control and keep your composure when things get tough. If all else fails, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that this, too, shall pass.
The holidays don’t have to be stressful! By following these simple tips, you can survive—and even enjoy—your family Christmas celebration! Just remember to take care of yourself, plan ahead, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. With a bit of preparation, the holidays can be a time of joy and peace. Best of luck to you and your family!