Alongside the warm, fuzzy feeling of finding the perfect gifts and admiring the extravagant light displays during the holidays can come the potential stress of spending time with extended family. As wonderful as it is to see people from the far-flung branches of your family tree, it can also kick your neuroses into high gear. Will Aunt Linda grill you on why you’re not married yet? Is your youngest nephew’s terrible-twos phase still going strong? Of course you love your family, but you gotta love yourself, too. Take some tips from our guide to surviving time spent with your extended family and practice social self-care this holiday season. 

Indulge your skin as preparation. 

A sense of confidence can empower you to get through the night. In the spirit of inspiring self-confidence, take extra care with your skin as you get ready to head out. Start your ritual with our hydration-focused cleansing duo, the Hydra-Therapy Cleansing Oil and Phelityl Cleansing Bar; take cleansing to the next level by trying the 60-second rule if you haven’t already. Nourish your skin even more with the vital nutrients in our oil-serum hybrid, Hydra-Therapy Boost Serum, and don’t forget to treat your under-eye area with our Multi-Task Eye Gel Cream – goodbye, dark circles and awkward conversations about how tired you look! 

Stay strong when it comes to food. 

One of the hardest parts of family time during the holidays is the sheer volume of amazingly delicious, not-so-healthy food on the menu. If you have specific dietary restrictions, make sure to (lovingly and courteously) remind the host beforehand, or bring your own dish if there’s a potluck element. But if you’re just sticking to a healthy diet, or working toward a weight loss goal, stay strong in the face of persistent hostesses. Flattery always works to your advantage: compliment the food, then lightly steer the conversation away from food.

Sneak away to meditate. 

Just because family time is the point of holiday gatherings, doesn’t mean you can’t have a few minutes to yourself if needed. If you feel stress creeping in, sneak away for some alone time. Check out the meditation app HeadSpace for its super simple guided meditation practices; make a getaway into the lesser-used bathroom on the second floor or hide among the pile of coats stacked on the bed in the guest bedroom, select the practice of your choice, and let the app guide you into serenity. 

Just a few minutes spent meditating can help you reset, clearing your mind of chaos so you can rejoin the party refreshed and relaxed. Even if classic meditation is not your thing, simply stepping away and being alone for a few minutes can work wonders – and if nothing else, provide a brief reprieve from family drama! Add a little self-care for your skin into the mix by throwing on one of our Multi-Task Eye Serum Masks while you’re meditating.

Prep yourself for prying questions.

For many of us, a big part of the stress of the holidays is the deluge of questions from relatives you only see a few times a year. It’s important to remember that they’re usually well-intentioned, but that doesn’t make them any less intrusive. You know your family, so you can reasonably predict who will want to know why you’re not married, when you’re going to start having kids, or why you’re not a CEO yet. If you’re already prepared with polite yet deflecting answers, that’ll help take the edge off the inquisition.

Rock the buddy system.

If you have a date, you’re already halfway there. But if not, link up with a cousin, your sister, the cool younger aunt – whoever you can trust to be on your side. When Uncle Larry lets loose with offensive commentary, turn to your buddy to help stay calm. One idea is to choose a safe word or gesture, which will serve as a cue. The other person can say something to try and distract Uncle Larry, or you can both excuse yourselves momentarily – safety in numbers, as they say. 

Pick your battles.

We’re here to gently remind you that just because you don’t like your sister’s new boyfriend, don’t make it known at Thanksgiving dinner. The holidays are about togetherness, and it’s in your best interest to remain as peaceful as you can. It’s valuable to your own sanity to let certain things slide. That doesn’t mean you have to let everything go, though. If you notice that someone is getting out of hand, or if Uncle Larry has made one too many rude comments, take it to the hostess or someone else closer to the situation than you are. 

Wind down with a mask.

At the end of the night, it’s finally time to relax knowing that you made it through the party. You kept your cool, actually enjoyed spending time with people you don’t get to see very often, and didn’t even let yourself be guilted into eating a second slice of pumpkin pie. (That first slice was worth every bite though.) If you’re staying the night, bring our set of four Exfoliate & Detox Hydrogel Mask and share the skincare love with your cousins while scaring your aunts and uncles in the process. When you get home, treat yourself with a full-blown masking session: our Pore Cleansing Clay Mask to clear away the day’s stressors or our Hydra-Therapy Memory Sleep Mask to make the most of bedtime by locking in vital nutrients and delivering unparalleled moisture, all while you sleep.

The holidays can be trying, but they don’t have to be. When you practice social self-care, you’re valuing your own mental health, which in turn helps create a peaceful environment around you. Your family will appreciate this, even if they don’t know it’s a conscious choice on your part! Focus on the present, stay positive, and enjoy your most stress-free holiday season yet.