In a typical year, the holidays bring us into close proximity with our family and friends. While this year may look a little different, our relationships during the holidays are still impacted. As you look ahead to what’s left of the holiday season, feeling equipped to navigate the relationships in your life is important for your social wellbeing. 

Lead with grace

During this crazy season when people are on edge and emotions are high, lead with grace. As we allow for mistakes, harsh words, and impulsive reactions from others, we are more capable of responding calmly. Reminding yourself that your loved ones are doing the best they can to manage their own emotions in this difficult season is good practice. Boost your own social wellbeing during the holidays by extending grace to yourself, too. 

Forgive quickly

When you gather with one another, whether remotely or in person, old wounds can often surface. Words that have hurt before can return with the slightest reminder and our relationships during the holidays can quickly disintegrate. Extending forgiveness to the offender allows you to move forward and releases you from the pain you readily experience when you’re with the person who hurt you. While their behavior and words may not change, you will experience greater peace.

Communicate openly

Unmet and unfulfilled expectations can lead to poor relationships during the holidays. Clear and open communication can stave off relational strife that arises when we are on separate pages. Tell your family or spouse how you’d like them to help you prepare for a meal or clean the house. Share with one another your expectations around gift-giving and gathering with one another. Practice good listening, too. Open communication is key to maintaining strong social wellbeing during the holidays.

Make time to connect

During these times, some of us many feel overly connected to our loved ones as working and schooling from home has become the norm. But being in the same space and connecting with one another are two different things. Make time to get away with your significant other. Go for a walk around the block or grab drive-thru coffee and look at the Christmas lights while talking. Spend one on one time with your kids playing outside or taking a drive. Your relationships during the holidays are dependant on building quality time with those you love, no matter how crazy life feels. 

Have an escape plan

When toxic relationships take over the party or behavior gets out of hand, have a plan to leave. If you’re attending an in-person gathering with family or friends who rode together, make your escape plan together. If you’re at an online gathering, know when it’s time to leave. Investing in your relationships during the holidays also means knowing when it’s time to say goodbye when things go downhill. Behavior science tells us that having this predetermined plan makes us more likely to implement it when the time comes. 

Having strong relationships during the holidays is possible with the right posture and some forethought. Knowing what you will and won’t do when certain situations arise make you better able to support your social wellbeing during this holiday season and beyond.