November is one of the best times of the year in the Greater Houston area. We love the weather, the lower humidity, and of course, Thanksgiving!

But often the stress of the upcoming holidays, family preferences for particular foods, shopping, and even the conversation leaves many of us a little anxious. Family relationships are complicated and can trigger depression especially around toxic people difficult to avoid.

Every year you feel the anxiety building and plan to be in control, but then something snaps!

What has changed in the last year? Divorce, marriage, new baby, new job, new home or even an illness can change the dynamics of the gathering. As we run around trying to get items checked off the list, we worry more/sleep less, and our patience weans. What once was a planned controlled environment changes direction and becomes a steamroller of emotions capitulating. But you are in control!

List your priorities. Manage your time based on your priorities and family values. Focus on the elements in your control. Stay firm and consistent with boundaries.

You do not have to cook the turkey the way grandma used to cook it. You can serve dressing with walnuts and cranberries if that is the way your family likes it. Extended family members can choose not to eat it or not. Choose what traditions are important to you and give up the ones that make little difference to you and your lifestyle. Healthy boundaries begin with making a list of things about the holiday gatherings that leave you emotionally charged. Give yourself permission to say “no” when overwhelmed and tired. As an adult you have the choice to make the gatherings as simple as you desire to maintain emotional well-being.

The bond that links your family is not one of blood, but respect and joy in each other’s lives. Let us reduce the stress of cleaning BEFORE the family comes over!