Coping with family visits: five tips

Family time is precious, but it can also be stressful – especially over the holidays.

Here are five tips on how to cope with relatives who are coming to stay. Visits can be especially hard if you have the background pressure of dealing with a mental health problem. You may not particularly want to talk about it. And of course, everyone wants family time to go smoothly!

Pace yourself
The most important aspect to managing a family visit is breaking it down into manageable portions. It’s a good idea to discuss plans before everyone arrives, and make sure things don’t get too hectic. Factor in downtime, like just watching television or spending the evening eating a nice meal together. Don’t try to do too much. Manage anxiety ahead of arrival by taking the visit one step at a time, even hour by hour.

Put conflict aside
So you argued six weeks ago on the phone… try to move on. Maybe by just spending time together, you will be able to put behind whatever caused the falling out, and actually end the weekend on better terms than when you started. Try not to focus on disagreements, and don’t bring up issues that perhaps need to be laid to rest, at least for now.

Focus on the positives
Make sure you pay compliments and spend time doing something enjoyable, to foster good feeling through the family. If that’s going to be difficult for you, the easiest thing to do is go and see a film. That way, at least people don’t have to talk to each other and it gives you some escape for a bit.

Get some fresh air

If the weather is good, get everyone out for a walk. Spring is a lovely time of year, and it can make everyone feel more relaxed just to go to a nearby park or beauty spot. Larger family groups can particularly benefit from time outdoors, as smaller conversations can spring up as people group off, and the pressure of all being together is released.

Go to bed early
There’s no need to stay up late. Early nights mean more time out from each other, and everyone will be fresher in the morning. If your family is used to staying up late, just explain you are trying to live more healthily by getting a good night’s sleep. Then smile sweetly and say ‘See you in the morning.’

Happy holidays!

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