Therapist Blog


How to Feel Calm Around a Family that Makes you Anxious

Its no hided secret that family can be and often is stressful to be around. The good news about seeing your family can be the unconditional love that is typically provided, even if it doesn't feel that way. Or perhaps its know that since you have family that has invited you over, you don't have to be alone this holiday.

Of course there are occasions where maybe being alone is preferred or you family has such dysfunction that there is more conditional love presented. If this is the case, these tips can help, but you may need more assistance and I recommend that you seek that out. 

So if you can manage to be around your family, yet still feel the stressed, overwhelmed, and uncomfortable feelings around family, especially around the holidays, here are some things that may help you ride the emotional wave a little more safely and comfortably:

Try not to concern yourself with being "perfect" around family. Unfortunately, perfectionism isn't something you can just undo overnight, but it can be helpful to remind yourself when you're going into a party or dinner that no one is actually testing you. (If they are, then you don't need their approval any ways.)

Create an exit strategy, especially if things get too uncomfortable, its always a good idea to have a reason on hand why you have to excuse yourself, and then a plan to do some self-care and coping skills immediately following your departure. That way you can reward yourself for facing the stress, and a way to feel better about your experience. 

Become comfortable with making mistakes. You will not always say the right thing, or have the best conversation topics or say the smartest thing ever, and you will survive anyways. Recognizing that you're human and so is everyone you are talking to, will hopefully take some pressure off of needing to say the right things.

Talk about things you enjoy, and often. Just because someone starts a conversation about foreign politics, doesn't mean you have to engage in the conversation. Of course its kind to listen and vaildate that you hear what they are saying, but that doesn't mean the conversation that makes you uncomfortable has to be the one you stay in. Segway into talking about something that makes you feel comfortable and at ease.

Remember that most people experience some degree of anxiety. That means there's a chance you're not the most uncomfortable person in the room. Hopefully knowing that you're not alone in your experience will help put your mind at ease.

Of these tools of course can be utilized in other situations, so practice this holiday with your family, and see how you can start to transform your experience with possible uncomfortable social gatherings.