Surviving Family Time
Many of us love family get-togethers and the opportunities they present to be generous, find peace and have fun. While spending time with family members can bring joy and a sense of fulfilling togetherness, it also brings a unique set of challenges that we may not face in our independent, every day lives.
Being around family members that we don’t associate with on a daily basis can bring up bad memories, unwanted feelings and even trauma. Family members can push our buttons and frustrate us in ways strangers cannot. Why? Because unlike strangers we have to put up with them. At least, that may be what we were raised to believe.
Although there are unfortunately consequences for telling Aunt Thelma to go jump off a bridge, there are more indirect ways that one can take care of their mental health during time with their family. Instead of focusing on those around us, we can turn inward and focus on taking care of ourselves. Below are three reminders that will help us survive the holidays with our mental health in-tact.
Remember that talk we had about self-care? If not, be sure to check out ‘The New Self Care’ blog posted in October. A great way to put your mental health in the forefront of your family plans is to take the time to prepare a mobile form of self-care. Make a list of people who can be your allies that you can sneak away for an hour with or confide in. Plan out areas you can escape to and cry if you need to. Find a way to give yourself what you need.
Being Kind to Ourselves
Another unfortunate element that may accompany family gatherings is guilt or pressure. Many of us feel guilt when spending time with family members for one thing or another; not being as successful as our sibling, not giving the most expensive gifts, or not having plans to have children any time soon. Things that may not bother us on an every day basis, but are brought to the forefront when our siblings or cousins are discussing all of their accomplishments. During these times of pressure, it is important to try and take a step back and if possible, implement those mobile self-care strategies and remind ourselves of the accomplishments we are proud of.
A skill that can be absolutely vital during family get togethers is boundary setting. When we set clear rules about what we will tolerate it becomes much easier to know when to react and when to walk away. When we set boundaries, we are setting an example to others by showing that we respect ourselves and our limits, and family members should follow suit. An example of a good boundary would be, “If Aunt Thelma starts asking me about when I’m going to have children, I will tell her that I don’t know and that I’m not comfortable discussing it”. While boundary setting seems easy on the surface, executing and maintaining these boundaries can be difficult.
If you need help in fine-tuning any of these skills or are having trouble with your family, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors.