Coping with Holiday Get-Together Pressure from Family

Thanksgiving is upon us and the pressure from family and friends is mounting, but the pandemic is still here—what do you do? A year ago, many of us thought that would be our only “Covid Christmas” but here we are now and there is still no safety guarantee. 

If you are unsure of what you should do and are struggling with pressure from family or friends to continue with plans, as usual, you are not alone. You must check-in with yourself and determine what you really want to do. What are you comfortable with? What will cause you the least amount of stress?

family pressure holidays

At Move Forward we have come up with a list of suggestions for dealing with pressure from friends and family to get together if you are not comfortable. We are here for you, providing counseling and therapy services to clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania.  

This is Your Choice

Our families and friends often know exactly how to push our buttons. They can pressure us into things even when we don’t exactly feel comfortable and while sometimes that is a good thing, forcing us to experience new things, other times it leads to stress, arguments, and anxiety. 

Whatever you decide to do this holiday season, remember it is your choice. You have to be ok with it. You can decide to stay or go. You can decide to join virtually or keep things small. Whatever makes you comfortable. It is up to you. You set your boundaries. 

family holiday pressure

Be Firm and Share Your Feelings

If you are not comfortable attending or hosting a holiday gathering, tell people why. Share your feelings. Be honest. If you are not firm then people will think there is still a chance for you to change your mind. Make sure to be clear with your choice to avoid any miscommunication. 

Tell people how it is. Be honest with your feelings. Say things like “I wish it wasn’t like this. I wish we could be together without this risk but right now I feel like I need to do what is best for my family.” Tell people that you would “feel awful if someone got sick.” Or, whatever your reasoning is. Being open with your family and friends will help them to see that this is a well thought out, personal decision you are making.

Acknowledge This All ‘Sucks’

Being truthful about the fact that “this just sucks” is you being real. Your decision may cause pain to others who are missing you and want to spend the holidays with you and it may cause pain to you as you wish you could be there. Acknowledging that this decision was/is not an easy one can help to ease everyone’s discomfort a bit. 

Stay Strong

Holding your ground when you are faced with pressure from family and friends, and your internal emotional battle is difficult. But, once you make a choice that you are comfortable with you need to stand your ground. Stay strong. Don’t waiver because someone is trying to convince you otherwise. You need to do what you feel in your gut is the right choice. It has to be something you can live with. 

Focus on what the holidays are really about — being thankful for what you have. Even if the holidays aren’t going to look the way you and others thought they might, there are still reasons to be happy.

pandemic holiday gathering pressure

Think it Through

Before you decide what you plan to do for the holidays, think it through. Weigh your pros and cons and listen to yourself. Talk it out with a spouse or close family member/friend, counselor, or therapist to determine what it is you want and are comfortable doing. 

There are a lot of varying views on the pandemic and vaccinations and debates can get messy. You should come to a clear conclusion about your views before letting others know your plans. 

If you are struggling with how to approach family/friends about the holidays and the Covid-19 pandemic, consider seeking the help of a counselor or therapist. They can help guide you.

Ready to begin counseling in Pennsylvania? 

At Move Forward, our professionally-trained and licensed counselors have openings. Just call our office at 717-462-7003×1 and speak to our administrative assistant to get started to feeling better. You can get the tailored help you need right now. We are here.

Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC

Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: alison@moveforwardlancaster.com.