By Karen Kwan
The holidays and stress need not go hand in hand. We checked in with professional life coach Bruno LoGreco (you may know him from the show Style by Jury) for his advice on how to deal with four stressful scenarios so that you can actually enjoy the season (yes, it is possible!).
Scenario #1: Dealing with your not-so-beloved cousin
You know who we’re talking about. That relative who makes a sport out of needling you. “So, when are you having kids? Is something wrong with you?” and “How’s that so-called career of yours going?” are common lines of questioning. And, once they’ve had a few drinks, forget about it, they get even worse!
What you want to do: Shove some stuffing in their face to get them to shut their chops. Or match them drink for drink so at least you’ll be so tipsy you won’t even remember this nightmare of an evening.
What you need to do: “There’s always that one relative who knows how to push your buttons,” says LoGreco. “Don’t feel the need to defend yourself; it’ll just add fuel to the fire. The best way to deal with them is to acknowledge them and then divert the conversation towards something positive,” he says. For example, when Uncle Saul asks you (again) why are you still single, tell him how nice it is to see him and ask him if he’s noticed how gorgeous the Christmas tree is this year.
Scenario #2: Shopping for gifts
Ah, yes, the joys of holiday shopping. There’s the hunt for that must-have toy for your niece. The long lines. The crowds of frenzied shoppers. The crammed parking lot where you have better chances of a date with Robert Pattinson than nabbing a spot for your car.
What you want to do: Buy all your gifts from the convenience store on Christmas Day.
What you need to do: “Tis the season,” says LoGreco. “You know what it’s going to be like—with the lines, the people, the parking lot. Just acknowledge the stress and accept that you are going to feel stressed and submit to it,” he says. If you convince yourself you can circumvent the shopping craziness, you’re sadly mistaken and will only end up feeling more angst.
Scenario #3: Your first Christmas with your boyfriend’s family
You’re a bundle of nerves about this extended visit with your boyfriend’s family. You’ve been reading the newspaper so you’re ready with all sorts of current events to dazzle the ‘rents with, and you’ve even put aside your usual wardrobe and replaced it with homely attire so that they think you’re a good girl.
What you want to do: Claim to have the stomach flu so you can skip the visit altogether.
What you need to do: “Moms especially have a sixth sense about insincerity,” says LoGreco. “The best thing you can do is be sincere—so don’t be someone you’re not.” Know your values and stick to them. Yes, you want them to like you so you can have some instant camaraderie but if you’re insincere, they’ll spot it from a mile away and it’ll only aggravate them, not impress them.
Scenario #4: You’re hosting your first holiday dinner
Frazzled doesn’t even begin to describe how you’re feeling. What made you think you could pull off making turkey and all the fixings, mix cocktails, prepare apps and dessert, never mind getting your apartment clean and ready to host that many people?
What you want to do: Send out an email that you’re so sorry but your crazy boss has just asked you to go on a last-minute business trip so you won’t be able to host after all.
What you need to do: Plan and think through what needs to get done for your dinner party. If you’re not typically one to cook or bake, have a trial run, says LoGreco, and make that dish you’ve never made for yourself for dinner one night ahead of time. The more you plan, the more you’ll know how long each dish will take and how far in advance you have to start prepping both your home and the meal. Then you can quit panicking and actually enjoy the evening with your guests.