2022 guide to surviving a trip home for the holidays

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – The holiday jitters are sure to creep up as we inch closer to the big Christmas weekend.

Whether you are heading home to see family or hosting all the festivities, you may find yourself facing added stress over the next few days.

Luckily, Dr. Ashley Britton with ECU Health Medical Center has the solution to the questions that may keep you up at night.

For the Host

Try to avoid overwhelming yourself on the final day of preparations to host a big family gathering.

Dr. Britton says it’s all about expectations.

“A lot of that stress comes when you’re not planning, and then you find yourself scattering and trying to live up to that commercialism, that hype of the holidays, and trying to make it perfect,” advised Dr. Britton. “In reality there is no perfect Christmas.”

Make a list and stick to it throughout the rest of the week.

Even if you cross just one thing off the list, you are moving closer to your goal and looking out for your future self!

For the Guest

If you are a college student visiting home from out of town, you will likely feel a shock moving back into your old rules and routines.

Stay respectful of the home you’re staying in, but hold true to the boundaries you’ve set for yourself since leaving home.

“If you know your parents are going to be a certain way or have expectations, plan accordingly,” said Dr. Britton. “That might mean that you elect to stay at a hotel instead of under their roof.”

Stay alert to social cues if your behavior is overwhelming others and remember that it takes a village to make a successful holiday

Toxic Talk

In a house divided, be it politically, socially, or on a bowl game day, remember that words hurt!

Try to avoid over-serving yourself at the liquor cabinet or wine bar. Alcohol often clouds judgement and can make your regret choices when you all wake up the next morning under the same roof.

There is nothing wrong with telling even a close family member that you aren’t comfortable talking about a certain topic.

“If you can let them know specifically what it is you don’t need to get into and what you want to avoid, that’s typically easy enough for people to follow and do,” said Dr. Britton.

Grieving during the Season

Whether it is the first holiday without a loved one or the fourteenth, grief has no timeline.

Be gentle with yourself.

Dr. Britton says to start with acknowledging your feelings. For family members who know a person is struggling, “reaching out more often is a great way to make sure they are included in different events.”

A dark moment feels detrimental to your progress, but there are no rainbows without rain.

If the grief is still fresh and you find it too sad to continue a tradition, make a new tradition that celebrates and memorialize the person.

Compliments beyond Weight

Holiday gatherings can be triggering for people who have a difficult relationship with food.

Though you likely do not mean any harm by it, comments or compliments on a person’s weight loss or gain can cause them to feel scrutinized for enjoying the meal and treats.

“Often times, really neutral greetings like, ‘It’s really great to see you,’ ‘You look great,’ or ‘We’re glad to have you back over,’ and just leaving it there without commenting on someone’s weight or appearance is going to be a great way for someone to feel welcome and excited to be there without having that added self-consciousness or stress,’ explained Dr. Britton.

Be conscious in your greeting!

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