Surviving Christmas: 6 tips to deal with irritating family members during the holidays

Millions of people are traveling this month to celebrate the season with their extended families, but when it comes to hanging out with the relatives during the holidays it’s not always jolly times and silent nights. Here are some tips to help get you through:

First, manage your expectations. The experts tell News 3 Now there is not a family out there that is perfect.

The @WISCTV_News3 morning family really does get along, but that might not be the case for u. We are sharing some tips on how to handle difficult relatives this holiday. My favorite: instead of thinking about how much you dislike an aunt/uncle focus on what you do like about them pic.twitter.com/hOpbdi9bVc

— Keely Arthur (@news3keely) December 16, 2019

“Sometimes people put an over-emphasis on how much they want it to go extremely well and sometimes it’s just not reasonable. Do your best to enjoy it as much as you can and then recover,” John Boyne, a counseling professor at Madison College said.

Second, make a plan ahead of time. Think of topics you’d like to avoid and come up with ways to politely excuse yourself from those conversations if they do come up. Having those prepared remarks can help you avoid reacting in the heat of the moment.

“It’s not that you have to change someone’s mind or even hide yourself, but you kind of have to agree to disagree and do it with kindness and compassion,” Boyne said.

Third, set boundaries. You know how your relatives, are and odds are they haven’t changed since the last time you’ve seen them. However, you can change how you react to them. Instead of thinking about the qualities you dislike in a person, think about what you do like.

Fourth, set your mind and body up for success by avoiding over-drinking and overeating.

“Some people drink a lot of alcohol so minimizing that and preparing to minimize that, and same thing with overeating. People will often overeat and then you don’t feel good. So plan to enjoy it in a way that’s going to provide most health and enjoyment and least stress,” Boyne said.

Fifth, avoid overly competitive holiday games that might get people heated up and stick to more loving traditions like decorating cookies.

Finally, remember these family get-togethers are really just a few hours or days so you will be able to get through it, and family dysfunction is part of what makes the holidays so memorable.

Get your weather forecast from people who actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.