Guest Editorial: Holidays, Family Stress, and Estrangement 

The holiday season can be a joyous and festive time for many, but for others, it can be a stressful and emotionally charged period. While the holidays are often viewed as a time to connect and celebrate with family members, they can also be a time of tension and estrangement. 

Family estrangement is a complex issue that can be caused by various factors, including unresolved conflicts, family dynamics, and personal differences. The stress of the holiday season can exacerbate these issues, leading to heightened emotions and strained relationships.

It’s important to acknowledge that not everyone has a positive relationship with his or her family, and that’s okay. For those who have chosen to distance themselves from their family or have experienced estrangement, the holidays can be a difficult time. 

Additionally, the pressure to have a perfect holiday experience can also contribute to family stress. The expectations placed on individuals to create the perfect meal, decorate their homes, and buy the perfect gifts can be overwhelming. This pressure can lead to financial strain, exhaustion, and feelings of inadequacy. 

If you are experiencing family stressors during the holidays, know that you are not alone. Remember to care for yourself and communicate your needs with your loved ones. The holidays can be a time of joy and connection, but it’s okay if it doesn’t look like a picture-perfect Hallmark movie. 

Here are some tips for managing holiday family stress: 

Set realistic expectations: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your family to have the “perfect” holiday. Remember that the holidays are about spending time with loved ones, not about creating the perfect experience. 

Communicate your needs: if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, communicate your needs with someone close to you. Let them know what you need in order to feel comfortable and happy during the holiday season. 

Have scripted responses and conversation starters to keep conversations positive and light. You probably already know what topics will spur upsetting comments. Be prepared with a few responses and know that you can kindly dismiss yourself from the conversation. 

Take breaks: Don’t be afraid to take breaks during family gatherings. Take a walk, read a book, or do something that makes you happy. 

Practice self-care: Make sure to take care of yourself during the holiday season. This means getting enough rest, eating healthy, and doing activities that make you happy. 

Seek support: If you’re dealing with family stress that is causing you emotional distress, seek support from friends, a mental health professional, or a support group. 

Remember, the holidays are meant to be a time of joy and connection, so don’t let family stress ruin your holiday season. 

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