Avoiding Holiday Stress: Tips For Staying Sane (And Out Of Trouble)

Avoiding Holiday Stress: Tips For Staying Sane (And Out Of Trouble)

Posted on Dec 06th 2018

Ah, the holidays! Time for travel, feasting, and lots of quality time with family and old connections.

If you’re lucky, these ingredients will add up to another year of happy memories. But if you’re not so lucky, the pressure of travel and trying to be civil to difficult relatives can stress you to your breaking point. We all know what that’s like: When your obnoxious uncle makes one judgmental comment too many, no one can really blame you for losing your temper.

But if your temper or drinking habits have gotten you in trouble with the law before, this can mean double trouble: You don’t want your friends and family to remember you as a troublemaker, and you definitely don’t want another assault charge or DUI on your legal record.

So in the spirit of holiday giving, we’re offering some easy tips to help you keep your chill when things get crazy.

If you’re struggling to stay sober, self-awareness is key.  Let’s get real: Avoiding alcohol is tough around the holidays, especially since every event seems to involve an open bar. But when possible, avoid people, places, and things that will trigger your urge to drink—for instance, avoid passing your old favorite bar and limit time with former drinking buddies.

But if missing your sister’s open house is not an option, go prepared and know what to expect. Being hungry, tired, or angry can weaken your resolve, so be sure to eat a good meal and rest up before attending any events you might find challenging.

Self-awareness is also key if you know you’re going to have to deal with difficult people.  Whenever you can, give yourself the personal space you need to decompress: This could mean anything from a solo walk around the block to quietly excusing yourself from the room for a minute or two if things look like they’re going to get heated.

Holiday Party Stress

If you do find yourself stuck with a difficult relative and feel your temper rising, you have lots of options for cooling yourself down:

  • Breathe deeply and slowly—this is a proven way to slow your pulse and calm your mind.
  • Redirect your nemesis—A diplomatic way to get Aunt Susie to stop criticizing your life choices is to give her something to think about besides you.  Do your nieces and nephews need help assembling their new toys or decorating cookies, for instance? Sounds like a fun activity for that “special” relative.
  • Don’t try to change their minds—Your cousin is never going to back down from his crazy political /religious beliefs, so don’t knock yourself out trying to change his mind. Let him vent—listen with kindness (yes, this will be hard) and maybe try to understand WHY he thinks the way he does.  This doesn’t mean you’re giving in—it just means you’re making a good-faith effort to find common ground while agreeing to disagree.

You may not be able to choose your relatives—or control every situation you find yourself in—but you can choose how you react to them. Bookmark the strategies above and use them to keep in control and out of trouble this season.  But should you or anyone in your family need legal help, criminal defense attorney Adam Stout is ready to help. With his extensive experience as both a prosecutor and defense attorney, he has the inside knowledge to give you or your loved ones the strongest possible defense.