3 Steps to Coping When You Can’t See Family for the Holidays

Available for Interviews: Dr. Colleen Cira:

Dr. Colleen Cira is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who specializes in Women and Trauma, and has worked with hundreds of people struggling with mental health issues.


Talking Points from Dr. Cira On Coping Steps
When You Can’t See Your Family for the Holidays

What we’re talking about here is the importance of boundaries. That’s what it means to tell your family that you can’t see them for the Holidays. You are setting a boundary with them. And while it can be normal to feel guilty when you feel like you’re disappointing someone, the degree to which you feel guilt can be helpful data about how comfortable you are setting boundaries. Here are some helpful tips for managing that guilt (and flexing your boundary muscle):

1) Feel it! The first absolute “must do” when it comes to working through feelings is to feel them. Get to know them. Identify what the feeling is. Sit with the feeling. Write about the feeling. Crying or yelling about the feeling. Talk to a trust friend about the feeling. Just accept it for what it is and be with it before you do anything else. If you fight the feelings, everything becomes like quicksand: the harder you fight, the deeper you sink.

2) Get curious. Once you’ve really felt it, get curious about it. What am I feeling so strongly about? Do I miss my family? Am I lonely in general? Is it less about me and more about them where I’m worried about disappointing them or making them angry? If so, is that something I often experience with them? With everyone? Get curious about your experience and figure out what’s going on there.

3) Do something. Once you have really felt your feelings and better understand why you feel the way you do, now you can do something about it!  

      • If you’re really going to miss your family, set up a video conferencing meeting on the Holiday so that you can have the experience of being “with” them.  
      • If it’s less about them and you’re lonely, figure out how to spend the Holidays in a safe way with people you love and trust (outdoors, Zoom, etc.).  
      • Perhaps you don’t even enjoy your family that much you’re simply worried about disappointing them. In that case, give yourself a pat on the pack for prioritizing YOUR needs instead of theirs.  Feel the fear of doing that and keep setting boundaries anyway.  And perhaps start to read about unhealthy/toxic relationship dynamics because being in a healthy relationship means that people SUPPORT your choices, NOT guilt you over them.


Available for Interviews: Dr. Colleen Cira

Dr. Colleen D. Cira, Psy.D. received both her Masters and Doctorate from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology and has been practicing in the field since 2001. Dr. Cira is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and the Founder and Executive Director of Cira Center for Behavioral Health, PC a boutique group practice with locations in Chicago and Oak Park that specializes in Women’s Issues/Health and Trauma. Dr. Cira is a trauma and anxiety expert, clinical supervisor, writer, speaker, consultant, activist, wife, and Mommy to two little ones.

Jo Allison
PR Managing Editor
Success In Media, Inc.

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