Tips with Trish

Dear Trish,

All of my friends are so excited to go home for the holidays. I’m not. Unfortunately, I don’t have the best home situation. My parents aren’t together. I haven’t seen my dad in years. I lived with my mom and brothers during high school, and I couldn’t wait to go to college. I feel like I need to go home because my brothers are looking forward to seeing me. The problem is that my mom can be really mean and controlling. We fight constantly when I’m home. A weekend with her is too long. How am I going to manage being there a month because I’m not taking a J term?

Signed, Unfortunately Home for the Holidays

Trish says,

As a society, we are programmed to think that the holidays are the best time of the year. Unfortunately, this is not the case for some of us. In fact, the huge hype about the “most wonderful time of the year” makes those of us with loss, family issues and financial stress feel kind of crappy, unfortunately.

Holidays tend to bring on stress and anxiety for many because of the increase of family interactions. If being home for an extended period of time creates stress for you, here are some things to keep in mind. Try setting a time limit on family gatherings. If you have to go, just tell yourself that it is only for a certain amount of time. Find that one brother or cousin who is easy to talk to and hang with him or her. Identify what triggers your arguments with your mom before you get home. If you can’t communicate directly and appropriately with her, just work to avoid the power struggles. Self-knowledge is power. Preparing yourself ahead of time can keep your anger in perspective since you can’t control your mother.

Make contact with friends from home ahead of time so that you have an out when things become stressful. Your friends at home likely know about your situation anyway and can be supportive. Remember that it is okay to take time out for yourself. Consider journaling or blogging to get the negative feelings out of your head. Go into your room or to a nearby coffee shop. Surround yourself in a more peaceful or positive environment.

Another thing to consider is working over the holiday break to give you a reprieve from the chaos. For some reason, work seems like a better excuse if you have a hard time saying, “It’s hard to be around you for this long.” Lastly, consider putting energy into something that feels good. Doing something for others always gives great rewards so consider doing a little “good will towards men.” After all, there probably is someone out there who is struggling more than you.

Best wishes for some happiness this holiday. Hope you still enjoy some quality time with your brothers.

Signed, Trish

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