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Enjoying Your Family (or Getting Away From Them) During the Holidays

‘Tis the season for time off work and visits with (or from) family! For plenty of people, that makes this an exciting time of year—just one more reason to love the holidays! But everyone else, time with family can be stressful.

For the record, it’s not even necessarily stressful because you and your family don’t get along (though, that can certainly be a contributing factor.) For some people, it’s simply a matter of how packed the month of December can be, and how difficult it can feel to keep up with everything and everyone.

I’m looking at you, introverts.

So if you genuinely love your family and want to be looking forward to time spent with them, but are stressing about making it all work, I’ve got some tips for you:

•    Get Ahead At Work: A common mistake people make this time of year is simply counting on having time off work and not doing much to prepare for that. As a result, they inevitably wind up leaving loose ends when they take off on holiday—and those loose ends can follow them. If you want to enjoy your time with family without feeling stressed about what’s waiting for you back at work, put your head down this next few weeks and try to get ahead so that you’ll have nothing to worry about when you’re actually with your family.

•    Say No: You don’t have to do everything and see everyone. Took me so long to learn this one. If you’re getting overwhelmed by the many friend and family events suddenly filling your calendar, start prioritizing and know it’s okay to turn a few of those engagements down. Focus on spending your time with the people you love and miss the most. That way, you can actually get the most out of those visits.

•    Have Some Adult Time: Family get-togethers where all the kids run around and play while the adults catch up can be a blast! But don’t limit yourself to that. Think about getting a babysitter for one or two nights so that you can go out to a bar with your cousins or a nice dinner with your parents. You’ll be surprised how much more quality that time feels when you don’t have a little one tugging at your shirt every 30 seconds.
Now, that advice was for those of you truly looking forward to the impending family time. But what about those of you who are dreading it (because yeah, I know you exist too!) Well, here’s my advice for you:

•    Lean Into Work: If the idea of family time makes you want to slam your head against a wall, volunteer for those big projects this month and don’t hesitate to take on a little extra work. Being busy there is the perfect excuse to duck out of the chaotic family dinner early and to keep your trip short and sweet if you’re traveling.

•    Reach Out to Old Friends: If you’re traveling to visit family you’re not exactly looking forward to seeing, make sure to get in touch with some old friends in the area that you can get together with. Having plans a few nights with them can at least serve as a buffer.

•    Get Out: Go hiking. Or running. Or hit up the local used bookstore. Just have an escape plan for when things get to be too much.

You’re allowed to take care of you this holiday season, whether that means using all your vacation time to see the family you’re desperately missing, or coming up with a few solid excuses to bow out this year.