The holidays are all about spending time with family. Occasionally, there is always that one aunt that never stops gossiping or an in-law that has criticized your cooking once or twice.

A family without healthy boundaries and appropriate behaviors can be taxing and drain our energy.

Examples of a dysfunctional family include verbal abuse, poor communication skills, unhealthy coping skills, placing children in unsafe situations, and unpredictable behavior.

Those who grew up in a dysfunctional family may deal with trust issues, experience self-doubt, have anxiety or depression, and self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. 

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Spending time with your family this holiday shouldn't have to feel exhausting, here are some ways to keep your sanity this holiday, and a few tips to avoid stressful situations.

  • 1

    Have More General Conversations

    You can stay emotionally secure by limiting the information you share and keeping conversations shallower. If you are uncomfortable sharing something about yourself, there is probably a reason why. To avoid sharing too much about your personal life, ask them more about theirs. "Enough about me, how is it going with...." or "I'd love to hear more about..."

  • 2

    Set Boundaries

    When a family member touches on topics you may not be comfortable discussing, try setting assertive boundaries. "I'm not interested in sharing about that, but I appreciate you asking."

    Some boundaries may be violated. If this occurs trying removing yourself from the conversation. "Excuse me for one moment, I have to make an important call."

    "I have to head out early, but it was great catching up with you."

  • 3

    Practice Self Care After a Stressful Situation

    Returning to a calm state after interacting with family members is the most important part. Decompressing after an intense conversation can help you ground yourself. Step away to take a few deep breaths or complete a self care ritual when you return from the gathering. Take a hot shower, go for a scenic walk, or meditate to calming music.

    If you have anger, don't bottle it up, it's always a good idea to release negative energy. Whether that's through crying, screaming into your pillow, or going extra hard in the gym.

  • 4

    Practice Self- Control

    If you only see that annoying uncle or bossy aunt once a year, it may be best to just bite your tongue if they say something to upset you. Sometimes you just need to remove yourself from the situation and go outside or into the bathroom, have a silent scream and shake it off for the sake of the family and peace over the holiday.

  • 5

    Know Your Limits and End Contact

    While it is best to keep the peace, sometimes it is better to cut off communication with family members who cannot respect boundaries or communicate in a healthy way. If spending time with a certain family member is creating a negative impact in everyday life, set a firm no-contact boundary. At the end of the day, it is never worth draining your energy over dysfunctional family members.