Holiday Survival Guide for 2020

Time to switch from my normal anxiety to my festive holiday party anxiety

If the above resonates with you, this holiday survival guide is the post for you. Even with virtual Thanksgivings, tensions can run high, especially in a year where everyone is already on edge from a very polarizing election and cabin fever. Here are some tips to remember:


Remember that you are under no obligation to attend or host. Family does not mean you have to subject yourself to abusers, nor does it mean that you cannot set boundaries with family members. Even if somebody traveled a long way to see you, or you rarely see them, does not mean you are obligated to spend time with them if they make you feel bad. 

Tonight's tea abusive family members don't deserve respect just because they are your family


Thanksgivings have been cancelled this year due to covid as well as disagreements as to the types of safety measures that should be in place. 

Your safety is important. Not only this, but the safety of others is important as well. If you don’t feel safe or comfortable to travel, don’t. Set boundaries if you need to. 


Even if you rarely see your relatives, don’t overexpose yourselves. Have alone time. Just because they traveled a long way to see you, or you don’t see them often, does not mean you have to spend every moment with them. Take a timeout. This can include finding ways to keep busy such as cooking or bringing boardgames. 

Although cooking can be a nice diversion, be sure not to overwork yourself. This can be stressful and can also create resentment.


This can be stressful and can also create resentment. Depending on whether or not you are hosting, having an exit strategy can be calming, even if you don’t use it. Having control over when you can leave is something that can make you feel in control and safe.

Happy Thanksgiving If You are reading this from your hiding place in the bathroom


If you are a sensitive person, it can feel like if things do not go well that it is your fault. However, a family gathering takes everybody. 


You can only control your reaction. "Science has determined that both incivility and kindness are contagious. Like a virus, they’re transmitted from one person to the next. If we experience rudeness or kindness — even if we only witness them — we will tend toward that behavior in our next encounters. So, we have a choice of which contagion we want to spread. It seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of factors can get in the way" (wbur).

By no means is it easy, but when in doubt, kill ‘em with kindness. It might not change your aunt’s crappy political views, but handling such an encounter gracefully and politely can give you peace of mind. In addition, you’re probably not the only person who feels this way about certain topics. Utilizing a buddy system and having somebody you can confide in can be extremely helpful for getting through complicated family gatherings more positively.  


If the conversation goes somewhere you do not want it to, you can change it. It can be good to have some ideas in your back pocket for how to change the subject, but it is even better if you have a buddy who can help you mitigate the subjects discussed. Have some topics you want to discuss, questions you want to ask, and so on just in case you want to steer the conversation away from a topic. 


We are wishing you a safe and happy holiday season.




Feature image from @mytherapistsays.