Dealing with Family Pressure During the Holidays

Last Updated: Nov 17th 2021

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Dealing with Family Pressure During the Holidays

When it comes to the holidays, one has little choice but to take the good with the bad. In the plus column, you have all the time spent with family and close friends. In the minus, you have anxiety, burnout, and stress. Unfortunately, family can sometimes be the cause of that anxiety, burnout, and stress—and even in the midst of a joyous family gathering, you can start to feel burdened by family pressure.

But how can family pressure be mitigated? One important step is to plan. Schedule how you want to spend your time on important days—Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, etc.—and let family members and friends know when you plan to spend time with them. Having a plan in advance can help you prevent the pressure to gather with people too spontaneously, and it can also spare anyone from getting their feelings hurt.

Another important step is to set reasonable expectations for yourself. If you’re in recovery, you may not have the energy, the time, or the clarity to do all the things you normally do during the holidays—so don’t. Observe the holiday traditions you care most about but don’t be afraid to skip out on anything that overwhelms you.

Practicing gratitude can actually go a long way toward preventing pressure. Spend just a few minutes each day rehearsing the things you’re most thankful for—including, perhaps, your family!—and see how that improves your outlook.

Above all, communicate. Be transparent about your struggles and about the ways in which your family can help you address them. Remember that family pressure is almost always unintentional, so if you’re worried about it, just speak up and clear the air.

None of this will help you avoid family pressure altogether, but maybe it can help you address it in a more proactive and healthy way.

How do you address family pressure? Let us know on Facebook!

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Brittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is the Assistant Clinical Director at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.