- Decide the length of your visit. Decide beforehand how long the visit will last. Shorter ones are often easier to manage.
- Be realistic. People often have high expectations that the holidays will be different this year. This is often not the case. So accept that people will behave as they always do and keep your own expectations in check.
- Set your limits. Decide ahead of time which toxic behaviour you will address and which ones you will let slide. This doesn’t mean that you are condoning their actions, but not making everything a battle will make the family gatherings easier for you.
- Develop “internal boundaries.” This means developing strategies that allow you to let go of the hurt, so the “toxicity doesn’t penetrate.” For example, think of some positive affirmations for yourself (“I am good enough the way I am”) that you can use when interacting with the toxic person.
- Set ground rules. If you find yourself having conflicts with certain relatives, then reach out beforehand. Perhaps you and a family member often spar about politics. You can email with him or her beforehand, saying something along the lines of, “I love you, but whenever we get together, we tend to argue about politics. Maybe this topic should be off limits, because fighting occurs. I want a peaceful and enjoyable visit.”
- Limit time with toxic individuals. Do not cut the toxic people out of your life completely, because you will exchange one set of problems for another. Instead, keep the visit short. You don’t have to stay for the entire event.
- Have a friend on call. Have someone you can text to vent your frustrations or even invite someone with you to be a buffer. Often people act better around new people.
- Limit alcohol. Adding alcohol or drinking excessively may exacerbate your anxiety, leading you to react to others’ behaviour in a regrettable manner.
- Maintain emotional distance. Sometimes, no matter how many times you address a family member’s behavior, they refuse to hear you. Learn to understand that their behaviour is a reflection of themselves; and not you. And, keep the relationship superficial by not sharing much with them. This limits how their behavior affects you.
- Finally, set boundaries. Try to avoid addressing the toxic behaviour directly during the holidays, because it is a busy and often stressful time for everyone. Instead, if a person is being too inquisitive, try changing the subject. For example, ask about what is going on with another relative and turn the questions back on them, thus deflecting the attention from you.
The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time surrounded by loved ones. However, for many, it can be anxiety-provoking because of toxic family member. Of course, you could just skip the event altogether but if you want to face it and try to enjoy your holidays, here are a few helpful tips you can follow
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