One of the biggest stress makers during the Holidays is when you spend an extended length of time with your family. Here are 5 tips for finding your Middle Ground … and feeling more balance this year.

perfect thanksgiving family

Let’s face it, spending 24-7 with anyone can be stressful, so here is some wisdom to help you make it through this year with less drama, tears and opening of old wounds.

1. Lower your expectations. This isn’t the movies, this is real life. And life has its ups and downs! We may put a lot of work into the decorations, food and the family setting to make it look perfect, but it can it really be like in the movies? Accept that there will be emotional baggage being brought into the house and through the Holidays. When we recognize that, we can think about how we want to handle it – before we get triggered. So reset your expectations and accept the reality that things don’t always go the way you planned them or hoped for.

2. Let it go. Have you ever noticed that you end up having the same argument or rehashing old sore points year after year? It’s time to let it go. This is not the time to get into an argument wishing your mother would not interfere in the kitchen. She will. Let her. It’s what she has always done, so be kind and let her feel useful.  This year resolve not to get sucked in. If your brother, sister, cousin, father, daughter or son  has a tried and true aggravating behavior … take a moment and ask yourself. Can I let this go this year? Is this truly a battle worth fighting?…. What’s more important to us as a family?

3. Be smart and be present with what you are saying and doing. Don’t over indulge as a way to escape. You can’t control other people, but you can control your own attitude and behaviors. If you want this year to be more peaceful and loving,  then take action that comes from kindness rather than being right or getting back at people! Whenever you notice you are being judgmental and critical, then take a deep breath … and choose to be kind. Resolve not to add fuel to the fire but to be the peacemaker.

take time out

4. Take a time out. If you find yourself starting to feel resentful or lashing out in your head, give yourself permission to have down time. Leave the room, take a walk, have a bath, take a nap, meditate or hit a yoga class. You need to unwind and recharge – and that’s okay. Encourage others to do the same. We all need a break from being “on” 24-7. Remember that laughter and deep breathing release dopamine and serotonin in our bloodstream and make us feel good.  Direct that pent up energy in a positive way and let it move through you!

5. Appreciate. Make a list of the positive reasons to spend the holiday with your family. There must be a reason, you show up every year! – And the family does too! Pull out the list whenever you hit a rocky moment. One thing about families is that you’ve got a long history with them, and unlike your friends, you have no choice.

On the other hand your family are just that – yours. Be grateful for them. Without them you may not be here …. and you would definitely not be the person you are today.

Resolve to let gratitude in, keep your heart open and be present.

p.s. Refer to the guide on practicing being present by clicking here.

25 comments on “Surviving the Holidays

  1. I’m going to make a note of these for this year.


  2. Reblogged this on Find Your Middle Ground and commented:

    Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for feeling gratitude and sharing with loved ones … and it can also bring a lot of stress and unresolved family issues. Here are 5 tips that may help you find balance over the Holidays.
    Val x


  3. Excellent, fantastic, wonderful information. Many thanks for this!


  4. “Make a list of the positive reasons to spend the holiday with your family. There must be a reason, you show up every year!” There’s plenty of reasons alright, I’m just trying to find the positive one! o_O

    Seriously though Val, this is wonderfully apposite and astute advice, well worthy of our considered reflection prior to any unthinking fulfilment of imagined obligations. Giving our presence lovingly is so much more meaningful and gratifying for all concerned; and makes of any time spent with family both memorable and rewarding to all, rather than a potential source of regret, conflict or annoyance.

    Many thanks as ever.

    Hariod. ❤


    • Thank you Hariod! Its good to be back to embrace the confluence of spirit and practical reality – brought together through words and humour.
      Val xo


  5. Wonderful and helpful guidance Val. Thankyou


  6. I’m so glad you reblogged this – I notice that I read it last year, but this is one that I think I’ll always need to read! 🙂


  7. In the Stillness of Willow Hill

    Hi Val,
    The holidays are wonderful….and tiring, as you so wonderfully elucidate. I’m happy to say that I have declared a time out from sponsoring Christmas for my siblings and their families. I’ve done it for over 30 years…in addition to holding Christmas for my own children and grandchildren. It broke me last year, so I declared that I will do it every other year. It feels good to pass on this honor, and I refuse to feel guilty that no one else will volunteer.


    • Good for you Tree. Letting go and passing on the baton can be an act of courage…. I have an additional thought to bring completion … make sure there is someone there to take the baton otherwise there may be discomfort and confusion. Not something to generate over a time of peace and love.
      This is also a great opportunity to create a new tradition if you wish.
      Val x


  8. Fantastic Val. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Love this list of tips Val! Especially where you mention choosing to be kind. ❤


  10. Yep – Kindness is the answer Julie. ❤


  11. Excellent advice Val!


  12. Love you and your advice, Val.


  13. Happy thanksgiving Val ; your sane advice will help all in thick and throng of this festivity to keep the balance ; we do not have an equivalent of thanksgiving in India as a full-fledged festivity thus we find it very meaningful…best wishes….Raj.


  14. I’ll be referring to this again in a few weeks ~ thank you! xo


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