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How to Reduce Anxiety before Christmas and Keep Calm During the Holiday Madness

How to Reduce Anxiety before Christmas and Keep Calm During the Holiday Madness

This week Jamie and I follow up from our requested topic from last week. The question was, how to I begin to set boundaries especially with in-laws, when they make manipulative or condescending comments about my children and my parenting style?

Jamie Molnar is a licensed therapist and has 15 years of clinical experience. She works primarily with clients that grew up in alcoholic family systems, have been children of narcissistic parents and people who struggle as adults. She helps people who are empaths and HSPs, which are common traits of those that grew up in dysfunctional or unsafe family systems.

This week on the podcast was part 2 with Jamie Molnar. Listen to the whole podcast HERE.

Before reading this post, it might be helpful to read the blog post from last week, it’s called 3 Steps to Set Boundaries This Holiday Season with Difficult Family Members to read the whole article click HERE.

A few things to keep in mind:

3 Ways to prepare for a holiday party when you know it will be difficult

a. Pay attention to your dreams

If you are having bad dreams or nightmares about what might happen during the holidays then the best thing to do is pull out your paper and pen. Journal through what happened in your dream, how it made you feel, and what reservations or concerns it brings up.

b. Pay attention to your body

The mind, body, spirit connection is huge and if we can pay attention to our body, especially the tension we carry through our shoulders, neck and any headaches we may be having, then it helps us to process through and prepare ourselves ahead of time.

Jamie says “Your issues are in your tissues” meaning if we can be self-aware and identify what issues, anxiety, or changes are happening then we can utilize that mind, body, spirit connection and dial in what we need to do to heal.

c. Do self-care on the front end. Before the party do some things that you know will put you in a good place, fill your cup or just in general give you more inner peace. For example: go to church, journal, do a gratitude practice, get creative, exercise, pamper yourself, have coffee with a friend, etc.

4 Strategies to End a Difficult Conversation

a. Change the conversation

Say things like: “Oh, we are not going there, but tell me about your trip last year to _____”

Or “I don’t want to talk about that right now, how is uncle ______ doing?”

Or “we are done talking about _____, but tell me, have you been watching the Bachelorette, Blue Bloods, Chicago Fire, Etc lately?”

The key here is to have prepared responses ready and practices so that you can easily say them anytime you need to.

b. Walk away

Simply get up, go to the bathroom, grab a snack, or talk to someone else. You can leave any conversation at any time you need to. Walking away to collect yourself is one of the most powerful tools especially if you feel triggered.

c. Have a contingency bound exit.

For example:

Time bound: We will go for two hours, then we have to leave.

Person bound: We will go early, when so-and-so gets there, we will leave.

Conversation bound: When someone starts talking badly about me, my children, or others, we leave. (This can also include other triggering conversations, such as politics, religion, sexuality, finances, etc.)

Alcohol or drug tolerance bound: If drugs are present, we leave. After the fifth bottle of wine opens, we leave. After so-and-so gets loud and pushy, we leave.

Contingent on how we feel: If someone feels uncomfortable (in any way), we leave.

d. Then, leave the party

Don’t feel weird or awkward about leaving the party if you have to. You are in control of your life, don’t let obligations or the fear of what others will say keep you trapped in a party or event you don’t want to be in.

For these types of exit plans, it helps to talk about with your family unit, make sure everyone is on board and practice saying “I see X,Y,Z happening, we are going to go” or just “well, time to go, Merry Christmas everyone” and do not apologize.

Don’t forget, after the party or event is done make sure to process through anything that upset you or triggered you. Journaling, talking it out as a family, or venting to a friend are helpful ways to “get it out”, process what happened and move on.

I cannot speak enough to the fact that having a great counselor is life changing. If you need help finding a counselor you can go to and type in your zip code to find counselors in your area. Most counselors are doing things virtually right now which makes it super easy and convenient.

Having good chemistry with your counselor is really important so if you don’t feel comfortable opening up to them then feel free to find a new counselor. Asking potential counselors a few questions and getting a feel for them is a great way to find a someone who is a great fit.

The holidays can be really hard for people, if you prepare, have pre-planned responses ready and have conversation changes and exit plans in place then you can make it through. Remember, that there is no party or family obligation more important than your mental health (no matter how much, you feel guilted into it).

Connect with Sarah Zastrow

Connect with Jamie Molnar

Resources to find a counselor in your area and other great resources to get started:


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