5 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays Even When Your Family Is Challenging

Mom keeps hinting that it’s time to get engaged. Auntie Margie asks when you’ll finally get a “real job.” Uncle Phil is already drunk and making weird comments about the neighbor’s Yule log. 

Sigh. The holidays. Sure, the cozy winter weather is awesome and you can’t really make an argument against candy canes (well, unless you’re a dentist, maybe), but spending extensive time with family can be really darn stressful. 

This year when you start feeling anxious during the holidays, try one of these five techniques to keep you calm, centered and present – even when Cousin Bobby tries to shave the dog (again!). 

1. Take a Time Out. Maybe the last time you were forced to go sit in a corner by yourself was when you were five, but as it turns out, spending a few minutes by yourself can be super helpful, especially when things feel overwhelming! Find a space where you can be alone (even if it’s the bathroom) and take a few calming breathes before Grandpa Marshall asks you to pull his finger for the third time. 

2. Light Candles. No, not so that you can burn down your stepdad’s garage – light scented candles to create a peaceful environment for yourself. Mmm, smell that yummy incense? Feel yourself relaxing as you inhale the sweet aroma. 

3. Play Relaxing Music. Warning: holiday tunes may or may not be relaxing to you at this time. Let yourself get carried away into music that soothes you and slows your heart rate. 

4. Go Outside. Yay snow! Sledding, snow angels and snowball fights are all exactly what the doctor ordered! No snow in your area? The holidays are a great time to take a hike and clear your mind. Unless you’re in the Caribbean, chances are you’ll be in for some crisp December air – and nothing is more mind-clearing than being in the outdoors.

5. Repeat a Mantra. One of my favorites is, “I love and accept my family as they are right now.” One of our greatest sources of stress is trying to make other people be, do or think a certain way. That’s hard, especially since ultimately, we really can’t control others. When you’re open to accepting them exactly as they are, you’ll eliminate a lot of stress for yourself. Click To Tweet

This year, I hope that you’re spending some wonderful time with people that you love (even if they’re nuts!). Take some time to yourself to reflect on what a wonderful year it has been so far. You’re on the right track, fellow artist, and I applaud you for being so true to yourself and your passion. 

Courtney Rioux, The Whole Artist coaches actors and other creative talent who feel stuck in their career and want more out of life. She's here to help you shift your mindset from stuck and unhappy to empowered and joyful — all while making it feel fun and easy. It’s like therapy without the therapy.