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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year … for Some

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hampton U chapter.

The holidays are known as essential for family gatherings, but not everyone has a healthy, loving relationship with their relatives. Therefore, with the holiday season being centered around family gatherings, it can be tough for those people. Going to see family for the holidays is difficult enough with outrageous ticket prices, large crowds of people trying to navigate travel centers, and cancellations or delays. Furthermore, the chance of experiencing sly insults, arguments, or even political debates before dinner can dampen the holiday spirit. If this is your
situation, and you’re worried about visiting family because of it, please know that you are not alone. It’s understandable to still want to see family around this time of year but not want to experience setbacks in the healing or growth you’ve been working on, especially as college students who are getting to know themselves outside of their family backgrounds. Here are some tips to stay grounded in case certain situations occur.

  1. Solidify Some Boundaries
    While this may have some restrictions, depending on your culture or family attitudes in general, it won’t hurt to put a boundary in place for certain things even if it’s not externally respected. If that’s the case, it would be best to step away from the situation or try to focus on keeping yourself grounded and emotionally regulated.
  2. Establish a Safe Haven
    If possible, ensure that there’s a room, a place, a person, or even take a step outside when a certain topic of discussion becomes too much for you. Allowing yourself the space to regulate your emotions is valid, no matter how small the space may be. It’ll serve as an opportunity to practice some breathwork, a quick meditation, or put in some headphones to distract you from the conversation.
  3. Try to Make the Most of the Occasion
    Whether it’s relying on hanging out with your favorite cousin or enjoying food that didn’t come from the university cafeteria, hold onto the little things that make you happy during the break. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be entirely immune to any of the potentially harmful scenarios that could occur, but at least you’ll be able to know you enjoyed some aspects of the trips and were able to attempt to apply the skills you may have learned about in those moments.

Overall, the holidays can be a beautiful time for family and friends to gather. They can also be difficult, and a time to practice some emotionally regulating techniques when it gets tough. These tips may not work for everyone, but it’s important to at least attempt to find the things that will make these moments less stressful. Just remember, you are not alone in this and that there is hope for change. Whether that change is in how you interact with your family going forward or decide to rely on your chosen family, it’s valid.