How to Deal With Difficult Family During the Holidays

MedCircle, with 1 million subscribers, is another binge-worthy channel for anyone who enjoys listening to mental health content during long trips. The channel says it updates its content every week, offering interviews with world-class psychiatrists and psychologists.

Both of these channels have accompanied me on long trips home, and they provide an abundance of tools for navigating tricky relationship dynamics.

2 Best-Selling Audiobooks

Lindsay Gibson, a Virginia-based clinical psychologist, is author of the best-selling self-help book Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents. Her expertise includes helping her clients navigate difficulties stemming from what she coined “EIPs,” or “emotionally immature parents.”

“Emotionally immature people are very egocentric, self-preoccupied, not self-reflective, and they don’t respect boundaries. They tend to be quite dominant,” Gibson said during an interview. Her audiobook is available on Amazon and is perfect for long drives or flights. It comes complete with a road map for how to identify and disengage from emotionally immature people—a perfect holiday crash course for anyone who needs it.

The audiobook The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Boston-based psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, is another great road or sky companion for anyone interested in how trauma shapes the body and brain, and how to recover from it.

I have read and gifted both of these books to friends who’ve experienced—and struggled to overcome—psychological abuse at the hands of close relations.

2 Podcasts for Wellness Junkies

Paul Krauss is a licensed therapist who directs the Trauma Informed Counseling Center of Grand Rapids, Michigan. His podcast, The Intentional Clinician, boasts 75 episodes of informative talks covering psychology and philosophy with a variety of health professionals. His work has recently been featured on PBS.

I asked Krauss about the nature of his work with clients, particularly during the holidays. “The holidays are often a busy time for therapists,” he said in an email. “Many clients suffer from anxious anticipation of feeling obligated to spend time with certain family members, or they may ask for additional appointments around the holidays. In general, the holidays can be a time of mental health crisis for many people.”

With episodes focusing on yoga, substance use disorder, chronic pain, anxiety and other topics, listeners can browse it all or find specific episodes relevant to their own issues.

Finally, the podcast Unlocking Us, hosted by best-selling author Brené Brown, offers in-depth discussions of topics including relationships, courage, shame, stress, and burnout. Her podcast is a must-listen for anyone who needs reminders about how to stay grounded in the face of relational stress and conflict this holiday season.

While I can’t say the YouTube videos, audiobooks, and podcasts I’ve enjoyed have ever successfully morphed my own holiday experiences into Hallmark specials, it was comforting knowing that people were talking about the situations, scenarios, and difficulties that I (mistakenly) believed were unique to my personal circumstances. It’s perhaps truer now than ever before that relationships with loved ones—for many people—are akin to walking on eggshells. If holiday travel to see tricky family is a must, these resources can help you prepare.


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