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How to Deal with Toxic Family Members During the Holiday Season

During the Holiday season, some are excited to gather with family but for others, the Holiday season can be a very traumatic experience due to toxic families. Not everyone comes from the most ideal family situation; therefore, holidays can trigger a lot of unpleasant emotions. The idea of being in a space where you feel uncomfortable can cause a lot of anxiety which leads to other serious mental health issues. Here are some tips to deal with a toxic household during the holiday season to promote mental health and stability.

Spend the Holidays with friends.

Those who come from a toxic household know that friends can also be that familial support that you need. If separating yourself from family members will protect you from trauma, do that. It’s okay to let people know that you are not in the best headspace in that environment so you’re choosing to go somewhere else for the Holidays. Surround yourself with people who bring you peace, so if that is with a best friend or a college roommate don’t be afraid to experience quality time with those people. Different households have different traditions that can make you feel welcomed just as much or even more than your biological family does.

Step away when needed.

The holidays are often advertised as fun, loving quality time with family but for others, this season is filled with judgment, shame and arguments. Things can quickly get heated when large groups of people are crammed together in one space for long periods of time. Also, if you have family members who have caused harm to you and were never properly addressed, it opens old wounds you may be trying to heal from. Never feel bad for walking away. Even though it is the Holiday season that does not mean you should be subject to any form of abuse whether it’s mental, physical or emotional; take a step back. Do things that bring you peace so you can stay in a good headspace. This may include journaling your feelings, taking a walk or phoning someone who makes you feel safe. It is so important that you put yourself first and knowing when to walk away is just that.

Think about what you are grateful for.

When it feels like everything is going wrong and you have nothing to be happy about, try to think about all the blessings that you do have in your life. Create a list of things you are grateful for this Holiday season. Nothing is too big or too small; you can be grateful for the simple fact that you are here today. To change your unhappy mindset, think of what makes you happy. Writing and journaling can be an escape from your reality when things aren’t pleasant. If you focus your attention on the positives in your life the negatives will start to fade away because you begin to realize that you have so much more to be grateful for.

Hi my name is Hunter Nicole Stevens and I am a sophomore journalism major at Howard University from Virginia Beach, VA. I currently write for The Hilltop, HerCampus, and HBCU Pulse.