Separating just before the holidays is hard, but figuring out how to deal with family members during separation before the holidays can be a little easier with some advance planning…

1. Consider New Sleeping Arrangements

Do you feel comfortable using the same sleeping arrangements you used as a couple, or would you prefer to have a different sleeping arrangement when you’re traveling solo?

2. Decide Who Needs to Know In Advance

Anyone who would usually prepare beds, linens, towels, or have special foods or ornaments on hand before you arrived as a couple may need to know in advance about the changes in who will be visiting for the holidays.

3. Think About Your Family’s Communication Style

You know your family best, and whether they will ask you many questions, or leave you alone based on how you prepare them in advance. Determine who is most likely to ask questions and decide if you’d rather have those conversations in advance over the phone or in person.

4. Be Clear When You Don’t Want To Talk

When family members press for details and you aren’t up for talking, be clear by telling them you don’t want to talk about it. Silence may be interpreted by some people as an invitation to ask more questions, so verbalize your boundaries clearly. It may feel harsh if you aren’t used to setting personal boundaries in discussions, but it will ultimately help family members be more sensitive to the topics that are off limit.

5. Seek Out Friends, Events, or Self-Care Experiences

If not having a partner during the holidays puts more pressure on you to be available to your family, determine if you need to build in some distractions, destinations, or appointments away from family to help break up the intensity and give you time to yourself.

6. Be Gentle When Uncomfortable Feelings Surprise You

Relationship memories and unresolved feelings can be triggered by random and insignificant things. Even when we anticipate the big triggers, we may still feel unprepared to deal with the small ones that stir feelings of grief, sadness, or unresolved issues. When these feelings rise to the surface, be proactive and give yourself any space you need to move through these triggering feelings privately.

7. Focus On Fond Memories From Childhood

Reconnect with your family by recounting the good times and funny stories from your youth. These are the people who have known you all along and have far more memories of you than you may even have of yourself. To them, you’re the same person at 40 that you were at 20 and at 10. It is your family that will help you reconnect with who you’ve been all along.

8. Get Professional Help If It Feels Overwhelming

Feeling overwhelmed is a sign that you may need some extra support to deal with the emotional burden.  When friends and family are already dealing with their own emotional overwhelm during the holidays, it may be easier to reach out for professional support to help work through the difficult feelings.

If you’d like professional support online or over the phone, you’re always welcome to contact me.

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