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 can only control myself."

If those first three mantras aren't enough to quell your holiday frustration, remember that you can't be held responsible to make everyone happy. That's not healthy. In fact, it's a positive decision to create distance when you need it. Step outside, leave the room, or take a walk. Whitney Hawkins, LMFT and owner of The Collaborative Counseling Center, advises, "If there's an individual attending your holiday celebration who you'd rather avoid, you have permission to do so. Say hello, be polite, and find a seat at the other end of the table. You are not required to spend the holidays with anyone who brings you misery at all if that's your choice." Hawkins adds, "I encourage people to roll with the punches and accept the reality of the day."

More from Trueself