10 Guidelines for Managing Family During the Holidays

Amanda P. Johnson, MS, LAMFT • [email protected]


How is it the holiday season already? For a lot of us, the holidays can bring a lot of fun and joy along with a lot of stress and heartache. With managing extra anxiety, complicated family dynamics, and tricky expectations there is no one size fits all approach for the holidays. What works for you may not work for your sibling or your friends and that is completely okay. If you are traveling or are able to see your family this year, the most important part is for you or you and your partner to sit down and create a holiday schedule/routine/tradition/expectation that brings YOU the most peace.

Here are some helpful guidelines and points to consider when figuring out how to navigate the holidays:

  • Figure out safe talking points ahead of time. Think about how you would like to handle when difficult topics do come up so you feel less caught off guard.
  • Find your boundaries. What is okay to let go? What is something you need to stand up for? How will you do that? What can your partner do to help?
  • Take breaks and create space. If you feel yourself getting stressed or angry go for a walk, find a quiet space, work out in the mornings alone.
  • What activities are with just you? Extended family? Friends?
  • Practice accepting your feelings. Whatever feelings you have a normal and valid.  Try to pause between your feelings and your reaction.
  • Every year can look different.
  • Arrive late and leave early.
  • Recognize you probably can’t please everyone and that is okay.
  • If you can say out of it, stay out of it.
  • You can only control you. Trying to change others doesn’t help.

Again, there is no perfect approach! Additionally, your approach can be changed from year to year. When discussing with your partner remember to be compassionately curious about their wants and needs in navigating this year's holiday schedule.

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