Top 10 Ways To Survive Returning Home For The Christmas Holidays

Whenever the holidays draw near, stress levels seem to skyrocket. Whether it's the annoyance of travel, distractions from work, small talk with long-forgotten family members, or constant requests for tech support, seeing the family can get pretty dicey. Here's how to make it through with your sanity intact.

Title image remixed from chert28 (Shutterstock).

10. Avoid Stress When You Travel

Joining your family or friends for the holidays often means a trip back to the ol' homestead, which may require a longer journey by car or plane. This is where the stress all begins — from packing to staying on schedule and paying for the trip, travel has a way of making you want to pull your hair out. Check out our start to finish guide to stress-free travel to stay sane through the trek and start your holidays off right. Image remixed from Chris Brindley.

9. Turn Awkward Small Talk Into Conversations

You're going home to see close family and friends, but you'll probably run into a lot of extended family members and vague acquaintances — and that means awkward small talk is sure to ensue. To reduce the awkwardness, turn it into a conversation, and things will be a lot less difficult. If you're really stretching, the FORD technique is a sure way to fill the awkward silences. Image remixed from Dvarg (Shutterstock) and Everett Collection (Shutterstock).

8. Work From Home Without Distractions

If your jobs calls, you'll have to master working from home without distractions. Part of that is dealing with other people around you, particularly if you're in a house packed full of holiday visitors, but the other half is keeping yourself from slacking off when you don't have a boss breathing down your neck. Set some boundaries to keep yourself from going insane, and get your work done as quickly as possible so you can get back to the fun stuff. Photo by Britt Selvitelle.

7. Start Early With The Food

If you're in charge of any cooking, don't wait until the last minute. Whether you're thinking traditional turkey or a seafood smorgasbord, advance preparation makes the task much less stressful. If you aren't in charge of the meal, see what you can do to help out — it will make everyone else less stressed, and give you some quality time with your family. Photo by Threephin.

6. Stick With Your Exercise Routine

Holidays are often when it's toughest to stick with your exercise routine, and yet it's also when they're the most important (since you're eating more than usual). If you've already motivated yourself into a good routine, you shouldn't have too much trouble — you just need to keep up that motivation while you're gone. In fact, your biggest problem will probably be time. If you have less time to exercise over the break than you usually do, consider condensing your workout, or doing something like our 20 minute exercise plan in the interim. Image remixed from Taylor Medlin (The Noun Project) and Leremy (Shutterstock).

5. Keep Political Conversations Civil

If every member of your extended family has the same political beliefs — or is similarly apathetic — consider yourself lucky. For the rest of us, the holidays can be tense. When someone brings up politics, stay rational, and do whatever you can to keep the conversations civil — including changing the subject if you have to. The last thing you want is dinner turning into a sparring match between family members.

4. Deal With Difficult Family Memvers

Some family members just get on your nerves after a while, and holidays can lead this stress boiling point. The most important thing you can do is slow down and relax. Remind yourself that you won't be dealing with them for long, and if things get a little heated, disengage and collect your thoughts. Remember to pick your battles, and you should make it through safe and sound. Photo by Lisa F. Young (Shutterstock).

3. Drop the Technology And Talk

Remember why you're here — to spend time with your family. The rules of mobile phones and technology etiquette are hugely relevant here. Put your phone in flight mode, give your family and friends the attention they deserve, and you'll avoid looking like a jerk. It's good practice for when you get back home, too. Image remixed from Krugloff (Shutterstock), Andressr (Shutterstock), The Noun Project.

2. Be A Courteous Guest (or Host)

No matter how much you love your family and friends, things can get heated when you're in such close quarters, so it's up to you to be the perfect 21st century guest. Communicate with your hosts, clean up after yourself, and help with whatever you can. If you are the host, there are things you can do to help, too — and techniques you can use to get rid of those that overstay their welcome. Photo by {Away until inspiration comes}.

1. Handle Family Tech Support

You knew it was coming. You've been getting calls from siblings, parents, grandparents and friends asking if you can help fix their computer when you come home, and you're dreading it. Make this year the last year: fix their computer up and automate everything you can, so they don't have to call on you again the next time something goes wrong. Set them up with remote access, so if they do need you, you can troubleshoot remotely without doing it all at the end of the year. And if all else fails, drop out of the tech support role gracefully, and help them find someone else that'll help them. Photo by Steve Jurvetson.


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