Get Well

How to Handle Toxic Family Members During the Holidays

by Amanda Smith

If this title drew you in, then just know you’re not alone! We all have a family member (or members) that can be toxic for us. Whether it’s someone who puts unrealistic expectations and pressures on us, or people who are just down right negative. 2020 has been a rough year for us all and the few days you get off from work, you don’t want to be spending time with people who drain you. Here’s how to handle this dilemma. Godspeed!

Just Don’t See Them! 

This is easier said than done as this involves letting people down, not seeing certain family members for the holidays and potentially stirring the pot. My take on this is, it’s my holiday too! I worked hard to have time off and I deserve to spend it how I want. If I don’t feel like forking over hundreds of dollars on a flight, using up all my PTO, and exposing myself to COVID, then I don’t have to, and this year, my family will just have to understand. The most important thing to remember is no matter what you do, you won’t make everyone happy. Even when you’re physically present with them! 

Limit the time you spend 

Maybe in the past you’ve given a whole week to family holidays but this year is different. We have all been cooped up in our homes, unable to have our normal life, and scared of what the future will bring. You don’t have to spend a whole week with your family this year. Do a long weekend, or even a short weekend! Do as much time as you can as long as it doesn’t chip away time for yourself.

Set up boundaries ahead of time 

This is also something I have to do with any family trip. Some are external and some are internal. Setting up boundaries can be really helpful in preparing for a holiday trip with toxic family members. You can do this in how much time you spend there, what you talk about, what activities you engage in, etc… For me, we send texts about stuff we don’t want to talk about. If we disagree on politics, social justice issues, or even family drama, those will be off-limit topics. This might not work with every family, but it’s important to understand what could make the holidays run smoother and your time more enjoyable. 

Standing Up for yourself! Protect your energy! 

There may come a situation, even after limiting your time and creating boundaries, that your family, or a member of your family, crosses the line or continues bringing in toxic energy to your life. This is the time to stand up for yourself. This could look different per situation but it’s important for your family to see you as strong and sure of yourself. If this means you leave the room when someone is out of hand, or you speak your truth no matter how hard it may be, do it! Your energy is so important and it deserves someone to protect it! That someone is you! 

All in all it’s such a weird and difficult time for us all. If you’re not traveling this year, create boundaries in phone calls/video calls, and if you are, we hope these tips help you enjoy your time off a bit more! Leave any extra tips below in the comments! Happy Holidays and stay safe.

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