Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go! But if that idea fills you with dread or anxiety, it doesn’t exactly make you look forward to the holidays. Keep reading for strategies for navigating the holidays with family successfully and more important, sanely.

What Came Before

Before we dive into the strategies, you should take a look at how you’ve gotten to this point. While you can spend time reading self-helps books and blogs, going to therapy, working on being more assertive…..one comment from a “well-meaning” relative can derail your holiday. As you’re eating a delicious holiday dinner, if Mom whispers, “Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” it can completely throw your self-control out the window. Knowing those triggers and being prepared to respond can be key to surviving family gatherings. And not only surviving, but actually being able to love your family in a healthy way and maintain your sanity (we promise, it’s possible to do both!). Here are four strategies for making it to January.


Before the shenanigans begin, decide how much time is enough. Would you be stoked to see the fam for 3 hours but not 4? Plan it that way then! Maybe that means not riding with anyone over the river and through the woods, so you can make your own escape. That can also mean planning to have a friend call you to provide a plausible excuse for hitting the road. With a little planning, you can make the family happy and make a clean getaway.


You won’t ever change someone else. From your mom to your significant other, you can’t make someone else be who they aren’t. The only thing you can control is your reaction to their behaviors. Remembering that can be key to weathering the storm of, “So when are you getting married?” or “Grandma isn’t getting any younger, how about some grandkids?”. If you’ve got a few planned responses, it can reduce the sting of those comments.


Our expectations can hold us hostage when they’re set unreasonably high. If your friends have picture-perfect families and you hope/expect that suddenly yours will behave like that this year, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, try lowering that bar a little bit. That doesn’t mean you’re condoning your cousin’s drunken ramblings or grandpa’s racism, but rather you’re acknowledging that there’s nothing you can do to change it. And by doing that, you’re not allowing it to control you.

Talk it Through

Make sure you’ve got someone to talk through your holiday fan-damily fun with. That can be your best friend, a trusted mentor or a therapist. But make sure you do it! Once the dust settles after New Year’s Eve, take some time to decompress and debrief with someone who gets you and supports you. Sometimes saying things out loud helps you sort through those thoughts and feelings more effectively. Process them and move on. There’s a whole new year of exciting possibilities waiting for you, don’t start it off on the wrong (mental) foot.

The Bottom Line

Don’t forget your own well-being this holiday season, either. The parties, the gift giving and the family gatherings can leave you running on fumes. With a little planning and thought, it’s possible to get your new year started off right instead of feeling exhausted and stressed. If you’re struggling with that, we can lend a hand this holiday, too. Call or text us today.