Why Does Visiting Family Feel So Overwhelming? A Psychologist Explains

How to Deal With Family Stress During the Holidays
Photo: Stocksy

Communing with family during the holiday season might be a great source of joy and comfort, but for many of us, it also yields anxiety to varying degrees. Often, we can't even articulate why we feel so overwhelmed—and that's because the situation itself is rife with confusion. Here we are, autonomous and evolved adults, stepping into a family dynamic that hasn't necessarily grown up with us. It's no wonder that we often fall victim to some of the same behavior patterns and old psychological wounds that we encountered as kids, even if only subconsciously. (And that's not even to mention the great aunt who always feels the need to pry into your personal life.)

In order to hone in on some key strategies for negotiating the most stressful family scenarios, we deferred to New York City–based psychologist Heather Silvestri, PhD. Below, she offers up some invaluable advice that might allow you to truly enjoy your time with your relatives—including the perfect response to any persistent inquiries about your love life.