5 Mantras for the Holidays (When You Hate Your Family)

The only people who say they like their families are liars. But during the holidays, those liars excel at denying how stressful it is to spend days with family members whom you'd rather scream at than smile. But if you're not a (good) liar, then it's a constant struggle to cope with the stress from aligning schedules, having tense small talk, and tolerating drunken arguments over crappy stale pie and melted cool whip.

To be clear, we know you don't really hate your family; you probably just can't stand their personalities, or their neuroses, or their belittling of your neuroses, or their bad jokes about that one time you peed your pants before the school pageant show or whatever. So what self-help tools do we have in 2019? Mindfulness a.k.a. self-soothing pep talks until we're blue in the face. More specifically, we have mantras: "A mantra is a word or phrase that you silently repeat to yourself during meditation," says The Chopra Center. "The purpose of the mantra is to give you something to put your attention on other than your thoughts." Alternatively, we have legions of psychologists and social scientists who have observed decades' of common patterns when human beings inevitably become sick to death of their families and must suppress violent urges.

So for advice about coping with holiday stress, they all seem to agree on the following:

"I am exactly where I should be right now."

Stop multi-tasking. Stop promising to pick up your aunt from the airport and watch Frozen with your niece and shovel the sidewalk for your mother and pick up beer for your dad; literally everyone can manage without you if you stopped moving for half an hour.

And besides, as most psychologists will tell you, you are not as good at multitasking as you think. Sharon Salzberg, a meditation teacher and New York Times best-selling author, agrees: "We can't prevent stress altogether, but we can keep rebounding from it," she said. "I really believe in what one of my teachers once called 'short moments, many times' where you get all caught up in something and then you take a breath. It's those intermittent moments when we come back to ourselves, and then remember what we really care about. Don't despair if you feel overwhelmed, because it's a process of continual recovery."

So stop pushing yourself to perform seven tasks at once instead of taking a breath in between each.

More from Trueself