top of page

7 Tips & Tricks to Navigate Family Time During the Holidays

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

Oftentimes, we spend months looking forward to the holiday season because it’s expected to be a time of joy, love, and togetherness. However, for many, it can also be a source of stress and tension, especially when it comes to navigating family conversations and triggers. As a Life Coach, I understand that these challenges can be daunting, but with the right mindset and strategies, you can transform your holiday gatherings into moments of growth, connection, and understanding… or at least try, teehee.

1. Reflect on Your Expectations:

  • Before diving into family interactions, take a moment to reflect on your expectations. The holidays are not a one-size-fits-all experience, and acknowledging that imperfections exist can help you approach conversations with an open heart. Adjust your mindset to embrace the reality of diverse family dynamics, knowing that not everything will be like a Hallmark holiday movie.

  • If you’re going to a gathering with your significant other, be sure to communicate how you’d like to show up at the gathering so you have public accountability to stay the course. It’s also a great opportunity to understand how they’d like things to go and flow while at the gathering, then if things start to go sideways you have each other’s backs and be a team.

2. Set Boundaries:

  • Establishing clear boundaries is crucial for maintaining your mental and emotional well-being. Communicate your limits respectfully and assertively, ensuring that others understand your needs. Whether it's limiting certain topics of conversation or scheduling breaks for self-care, setting boundaries empowers you to create a space that supports your emotional health.

  • One trick I always use is taking strategic bathroom breaks when I’m starting to feel overwhelmed or certain conversation topics come up that I know may be challenging to navigate with folks who are on different wavelengths. When I’m in the bathroom, I take six deep breaths, in and out through the nose, to create a physiological response and call in a sense of calm. As I wash my hands, I intentionally say that I’m releasing all negativity and energy that does not belong to me and I call back my energy and power lovingly and peacefully.

3. Practice Active Listening:

  • Engage in conversations with genuine curiosity and a willingness to understand differing perspectives. Practice active listening by giving your full attention, paraphrasing what you've heard, and asking clarifying questions. This not only fosters meaningful connections but also helps diffuse potential conflicts. I always advise my Life Coaching clients to seek first to understand, then be understood. That way you know what you’re working with and what matters to the other person so you can meet them where they are… or choose not to partake in the dialogue.

  • A failsafe answer I give when I don’t agree with someone else’s perspectives is: “Oh, wow, that’s interesting… I never thought of it that way before. I can appreciate how you’d see it that way considering your life experience/what you’ve been through/experience in that space.” Therefore, I’m not agreeing with them or blatantly disagreeing with them and I’m validating their perspective. It’s also a good segue way to share my differing perspective and share stories that may help them understand where I’m coming from and expand how they see things.

4. Choose Your Battles Wisely:

  • Not every disagreement requires immediate resolution. Prioritize your mental well-being by choosing your battles wisely. Ask yourself if addressing a particular issue is necessary in the context of the holiday gathering or if it can be revisited at a more opportune time. What I specifically ask & share with my 1:1 Life Coaching clients is: “Can you practice giving less {f-word expletive} about this? You get to choose what you actually care about enough to engage in and what you don’t, you have agency over yourself and how you respond to others.”

  • Also, consider, how far are you actually going to get in shifting someone else’s perspective on this over dinner and drinks? Is it going to be worth all your energy and effort and getting worked up? Can you choose not to do deep and change the subject and actually enjoy yourself? The answer is YES! Do it, protect your inner peace.

5. Stay Mindful and Present:

  • The holiday season often brings a flurry of activities, making it easy to get caught up in the chaos. Practice mindfulness to stay present in the moment, allowing you to respond thoughtfully rather than react impulsively. Mindful breathing and grounding exercises can be invaluable tools for maintaining emotional balance. Another great tool I use is applying calming essential oils to my wrists or have one affirmation I can come back to so I can stay grounded instead of going with a turbulent flow.

6. Foster Empathy:

  • Understand that everyone comes to the holiday table with their own experiences, challenges, and emotions. Foster empathy by putting yourself in others' shoes, recognizing that they, too, may be navigating their own struggles. Approach conversations with compassion, and be open to finding common ground.

7. Create Positive Rituals:

  • Introduce positive rituals into your holiday traditions that emphasize connection and gratitude. Whether it's sharing appreciations around the table or engaging in an activity everyone enjoys, creating uplifting rituals can shift the focus from potential triggers to shared moments of joy. An easy way to lead a conversation at the table is by sharing what you’re grateful for and asking people to share one thing they’re grateful for too. If no one jumps on the bandwagon, don’t take it personally, at least you tried and gave it your best shot!

As a Life Coach, I encourage you to approach the holiday season as an opportunity for personal growth and strengthened relationships. By reflecting on your expectations, setting boundaries, practicing active listening, choosing your battles, staying mindful, fostering empathy, and creating positive rituals, you can navigate family conversations and triggers with resilience and grace. Remember, the holiday season is a time for connection and love, and with the right mindset, you can make it a truly enriching experience for yourself and those around you.

30 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page