+
upworthy
Family

3 ways to navigate the holidays with toxic family members while keeping your sanity in tact

Making a preemptive plan of escape can save you an awkward exit.

toxic family holidays; surviving family holidays; family time; thanksgiving; mental health and holidays
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

3 ways to get through the holiday season with toxic family

Holidays can be hard for some people, especially if they have family members that they don't get along with and while the solution for some people would be to stay away, it's not always that simple. There are many reasons people may choose to endure unpleasant family members, whether it be staying with in-laws until they get on their feet or visiting parents in order to see their younger siblings.

With holidays coming up, people are making plans on who's house they're visiting and for how long. Your mouth may be salivating at the thought of eating aunt Mary's famous green bean casserole that she only cooks twice a year and you can't wait for dinner. But what do you do if you're stuck spending time with family members you don't particularly care to be around?


According to a recent poll by USA Today, nearly 85% of people avoid family get togethers during the holidays. That's certainly one way to avoid drama but that's not possible for everyone. So for those that must be in contact with family members that their not particularly fond of, there are three simple things you can do the maintain your sanity and enjoy your time.

1. Create an easy to execute escape plan in advance

No one likes being stuck somewhere unpleasant, so if you have a partner coming with you, make sure you are both clear on how long you're staying. Given that the holidays are often seen as extended family days, someone will likely ask why you need to leave. Prepare for that scenario by actually having a place to go. If it's your family that makes you a little unstable, schedule that visit first so you can use the other person's scheduled family time to politely exit.

This doesn't have to be elaborate, it just has to feel valid to you. If you don't have a partner, you can always make plans to spend some time at a friend's house after your allotted time with your family. "Sorry, uncle Jimmy, I'm expected at Becky's house by 2:30 but it was so nice to see everyone," as you skedaddle out the door.

toxic family holidays; surviving family holidays; family time; thanksgiving; mental health and holidays

Two women in kitchen cooking

Photo by Isaac Owens on Unsplash
2. Set a physical boundary by utilizing distance

If you find yourself at a family gathering that includes one or two people you're not particularly fond of, you can utilize the space of the location to create physical distance between you and that person. After the initial pleasantries, move away to another room in the house and enjoy the company of other family members. There's no rule that says you need to engage with everyone at all times. You set the boundary around your engagement with this family member.

If it gets to be a little overwhelming, remember that you're in control of yourself. You can exit the space to step outside, go to the bathroom or ask the host to lay down in an empty room for a few minutes. This will help to reset your nervous system a bit so you can continue to be present with the other family you enjoy.

3. Have a code word to indicate an immediate need to exit

Whether you bring your partner, friend or arrive solo, have a code word ready to go so whoever you're with knows it's their time to shine. This is essentially like pulling the escape hatch. If you walk up to your partner and say, "we forgot the banana pudding," and they know banana pudding is the code word, that's when they give a reason to leave immediately. Will it be a lie? Yes. Do we care in that moment? No. In that moment the focus is on your mental health and feelings of safety.

So if you say the code word and your partner says, they just checked the camera app and the dog has had multiple accidents in the house and looks like he's sick, apologize for having to leave and go clean up imaginary dog poop.

Bonus: Avoid unnecessary hot topics unless you're mentally prepared

No matter what TikTok says, you don't have to have heated conversations over hotly debated topics at the dinner table. If you're not prepared to emotionally and mentally handle the hostility that may come, keep it surface level. If someone tries to bait you, redirect by stating you've heard about it but haven't really kept up, then change the subject. There are multiple variations on this that someone could use to steer the conversation away but remember, you can always create space between you two if necessary.

You never have to stay in an unsafe or hostile environment, while you can't control other people, you can control yourself.

Democracy

This Map Reveals The True Value Of $100 In Each State

Your purchasing power can swing by 30% from state to state.

Image by Tax Foundation.

Map represents the value of 100 dollars.

As the cost of living in large cities continues to rise, more and more people are realizing that the value of a dollar in the United States is a very relative concept. For decades, cost of living indices have sought to address and benchmark the inconsistencies in what money will buy, but they are often so specific as to prevent a holistic picture or the ability to "browse" the data based on geographic location.

The Tax Foundation addressed many of these shortcomings using the most recent (2015) Bureau of Economic Analysis data to provide a familiar map of the United States overlaid with the relative value of what $100 is "worth" in each state. Granted, going state-by-state still introduces a fair amount of "smoothing" into the process — $100 will go farther in Los Angeles than in Fresno, for instance — but it does provide insight into where the value lies.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

People admit the one thing that Boomers really got right and some folks are uncomfortable

"You have to force yourself to do things that are difficult and uncomfortable."

A Baby Boomer has some thoughts on emotional resilience.

An overarching Baby Boomer stereotype is that they have a problem with the younger generations, especially Millennials because they were coddled growing up and lack the determination to do hard things.

Many believe that when helicopter parents shelter kids from discomfort, they never develop the emotional resilience that it takes to succeed on their own.

Some may even attribute this to the increase in mental illness.

Keep ReadingShow less

When people move in and refuse to move out, what do you do?

Squatters' rights laws are some of the most bizarrely misused legal realities we have, and something no one seems to have a good answer for. Most of us have heard stories of someone moving into a vacant home and just living there, without anyone's permission and without paying rent, and somehow this is a legal question mark until the courts sort it out.

According to The National Desk, squatters' rights are a carryover from British property law and were created to ensure that abandoned property could be used and to protect occupants from being kicked out without proper notice. It should go without saying that squatter law isn't meant to allow someone to just take over someone else's property, but sometimes that's exactly what happens.

It's what happend to Flash Shelton's mother when she put her house up for rent after her husband passed away. A woman contacted her with interest in the property, only she wanted to do repairs and look after the home instead of paying rent. Before anyone knew it, she had furniture delivered (which she later said was accidental) and set up camp, despite Shelton's mom not agreeing to the arrangement.

Keep ReadingShow less
via Dorilee and Sean Lavin (used with permission)

Sean and Dorilee Lavin feel complete.

Dorilee Lavin, 39, was a divorced mother of 3 living in Vermont. When she was ready to find her next relationship, she made a list of characteristics she wanted in her next husband. “I manifested him hard,” Dorilee, 39, told Today.com.

Three days later, she saw a tall, dark-haired man named Sean walking his 2 daughters to school and hoped he was single. “It was the sweetest thing ever, like an image you’d see in a magazine,” she recalled. "They had such a happy energy."

After some research, she discovered that he was single, too. Unfortunately, their paths didn’t cross and the school year was nearing its end. "I never got the chance to connect with him, but the [after-school care] was tired of hearing me talk about him to them," she confessed in a TikTok video with over 1.7 million views.

Keep ReadingShow less
Photos by Karolina Grabowska and Kanchanachitkhamma via Canva

Traditional calculator and smartphone calculator give different answers

Some people see math and automatically turn off their brains while others can't wait to figure out the problem presented. Math can be anxiety producing for some people but this random discovery of two calculators coming up with different answers to the same problem have people intrigued.

Spellbinding Odyssey shared a short video on X showing someone using a regular Casio calculator you can pick up at any store and the calculator that comes standard on a cellphone. The person in the video enters a simple equation on the cellphone calculator, 50+50x2. Instantaneously, the cellphone calculator displays the answer as 150. It doesn't take a mathematician to second guess that answer though many people might immediately second guess their own assumption that the answer given is incorrect.

On the traditional calculator, the same exact simple equation is entered in the same order, 50+50x2. But there's something weird that happens. The traditional calculator comes up with a completely different answer than the other calculator. This time the answer to the equation is 200, but how?

Keep ReadingShow less

The Hindenburg disaster, a slice of pizza and a squirrel.

How is it that some people seem to know a lot of random facts and are great at trivia, while others can’t get a question right while watching “Jeopardy!”? A big reason is curiosity. People interested in many different subjects have a more significant knowledge base than those who do not.

Further, when people are genuinely interested in a subject, they retain knowledge much better than if they heard the information in passing. So, while two students may learn the same thing in class, the genuinely interested one will remember the information, while the other will quickly forget it.

Studies show that curiosity is one of the most significant predictors of having a high IQ.

Keep ReadingShow less