For some, seeing relatives is the highlight of the year. For others, especially introverts or those who have strained relationships, it can cause stress and overwhelm. Here are a few tips for maintaining a little inner peace during busy family visits.    

Adjust Expectations

Sometimes, familial stress comes from certain expectations of how things should be or how we want people to act. This only sets us up for anxiety and disappointment. Forego the attitude of should and try to accept things as they come.

Observe Without Engaging

You can be polite and present for others without exhausting yourself. If you get drained or too excited during a family gathering, pause and step back from the hubbub. This doesn’t have to mean leaving, but making an active decision to observe from the sidelines. Is a heated discussion going on? There’s no harm in opting out.

Focus on Tasks

Sometimes in order to find a little inner calm, we just need something to focus on. Carrying out a task or a job is a great way to channel energy while still being involved. If you’re a guest at a family get-together, ask what you can do to help (it will be much appreciated).

Set Aside Alone Time

Get up an hour early and go for a walk. Curl up with book after dinner. Practice some deep breathing in the shower. Excuse yourself to go to bed early. If family time is really jam-packed, take a day to charge up beforehand or recuperate afterwards.  

Have Questions and Answers Prepared

Seeing family often means lots of catching up. If these conversations make you nervous, come up with neutral topics for folks you haven’t seen in awhile. If you’re wary of being drilled with questions about your job or relationship status, have answers prepared ahead of time.     

Be Mindful of Alcohol

At a family party, a little wine or beer brings lots of cheer. But too much alcohol can make us do or say things we’ll regret (and the physical withdrawal is a doozy). Enjoy a nice beverage, but keep your limits in mind.