By Mikkel Hyldebrandt

The holidays are a wonderful time to spend with friends and family. But the holidays can also be difficult if you are dealing with family tensions and odd friendship dynamics that seem even more prevalent come the holiday season. So, here are a few strategies so you can thrive, not just survive all the holiday cheer.

Accept the Differences

You have to embrace the fact that you are not in control of those around you – just as they are not in control of you. You don’t have the power to change the behavior of family members or friends, so why not put some work into accepting the ways that people are, their strengths, faults, and all.  

Choose Your Battles

Sure, those biding questions about your personal life can be highly triggering, but instead of buying into what could set you off, consider avoiding a potential confrontation. Sometimes taking control of your emotions is the most powerful thing you can do when faced with a provoking situation – and if it gets too much, remove yourself from the situation while gently reminding them that their behavior is unacceptable.

Set a Few Boundaries

It pays to identify who in your family and friends circle cause you distress and then set a few boundaries before the holiday get-together. They don’t have to be set with the person(s) directly, but you could make sure you avoid specific topics of conversation or don’t sit next to them at dinner. The important thing is that you set these boundaries so that you can better appreciate what your family and friends have to offer.

Seek Love and Support

Sometimes family relationships don’t offer you the support and even affection you need, so seek out those in your social life that do. You will get the love and support you need and an opportunity to debrief and unpack your emotions. Maybe a fresh perspective or just the chance to vent a little will help any lingering feelings dissipate before they develop into something more.

Be Mindful

Mindfulness and forcing yourself to view things and dynamics through a different lens can help you balance any uncomfortable emotions. Pay attention to what you love and appreciate about the people around you, and use your senses to enjoy the food and drink. When you focus your thoughts even a little, your mind won’t be distracted, and you can make way for humor and a lighter mood.