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How to Confidently Handle Festive Family Friction

How to Confidently Handle Festive Family Friction

A festive scene, but what happens if your family are causing stress and anxiety?
    Help me Steve! The kids, my husband, getting the house ready, the cooking, the shopping plus full-time work – I’ve got everything to do for Christmas, I’m already running around like a mad thing and time’s fast running out! Plus my husband’s parents are coming over for the first time and I don’t get on with his Mum at all. So Christmas Day itself is going to be a huge amount of work and while I’ll probably enjoy it I know I’ll get stressed out. What can I do to make it more magical and less stressful?”

    – Vicky in London

    This is an email I received the other day that’s typical of many I receive at this time of year, and my own Christmas is promising to be an interesting one.

    My recently-out gay nephew is bringing his Eastern European partner to meet my family, including my bordering-on-homophobic, anti-immigrant father, and my sister’s ex-husband is coming along for the first time in 7 years, having split from his new partner who’s spending Christmas with their daughter.

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    It feels like I’m in an episode of Eastenders.

    I’m sure that a lot of you will be sharing some seasonal anxiety too, so here are my tips for confidently handing a family Christmas.

    1. Adjust your expectations.

    If you expect everything to be perfect and to go like clockwork, you’re going to get stressed, angry and upset when that doesn’t happen – you’re setting yourself up for a big disappointment.

    If you have unrealistic expectations make sure you shift them before things can get stressful.

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    Change your expectations so you expect the odd hiccup, and choose to laugh about them rather than stress about them – laughter goes a long way.

    2. Go with the flow.

    The tree doesn’t have to have every bauble hung perfectly, the roast potatoes don’t have to be like Gordon Ramsay’s and you don’t have to be the perfect host. Relax, step back and recognise what’s important about Christmas for you.

    What is it that makes Christmas special and magical? I guarantee it’s nothing to do with how many cheeses are on the cheese board or whether dinner is half an hour late to the table. It’s about togetherness, warmth, laughter and lightness.

    Give yourself a break, relax and enjoy the good stuff.

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    3. Deal with family issues later.

    Remember that Christmas isn’t the best time to sort out all your problems with family and friends. Nobody wants to argue and fight at Christmas so try and deal with any family issues another time. Even find a good opportunity to tell key people that you can put your differences aside for a few days.

    Also remember that you don’t have to spend every waking moment with family if you don’t want to. If you find yourself going mad, take a break, go for a walk or visit a friend, and don’t get over- exposed.

    4. Do things in the right spirit.

    What I’ve learned is that the best way of feeling fulfilled and magical at Christmas is to give without attachment to the outcome.

    Yes, that sounds pretty cheesy (like something Mickey Rooney would say in a Disney Christmas family movie), but I promise you it’s true.

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    Some people might moan about their gifts and others may take their stresses out on you. There’s nothing you can do about those things but you can choose how to be and how you want to feel.

    People would much rather spend time with you when you’re relaxed and generous of heart rather than seeing you wound up and stressed, so make a choice that puts you at your best and most generous of spirit.

    Am I worried about my potentially challenging (and even comically disastrous) Christmas?

    Nope.

    That’s simply because I know my family well enough to know that we can let our hair down and have fun, and that any personal issues people might have are nowhere near as important as the family relationships we value so much.

    I can’t wait for Christmas.

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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