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Surviving Your Holidays
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, December 2007

Guests Who Disturb Your Peace

Sometimes hosting brings along with it the need to have people stay with you who not only are inconsiderate guests but are people who annoy you, get under your skin, or are staying with you because of an obligation you feel to invite them for the holidays.

Whatever the reason, you may find that you have a person (or people) in your "inner sanctum." Maybe you feel as if being in your own home on the holidays is exactly where you want to be but you are not so thrilled with ALL of the folks who are coming home for the holidays. Or maybe you would be thrilled if they were there for part of the time. Your home is often your very own sanctuary where you look forward to getting away from the stresses of everyday life and now you fear you are going to be invaded. In fact, what you now realize is that one of the major stressors in your life has taken up residency in your guest room going through your things. What to do?

Consider these tips:

Find Downtime - Do something that you enjoy, find relaxing, restorative, or nurturing. Make time for yourself at both the beginning and end of the day so you can treat yourself to a calming meditation, a quiet walk, some time in the garden or in an aromatic tub. Recharging your battery is important when you have someone in your space who disturbs the peace.

Plan Ahead - Try to plan events where you are with the person in small doses. Enlist other guests to "entertain" this particular person so you do not have full time responsibility. Be willing to include other people who are easy to be with to take away some of the pressure. Consider doing chores with the person such as giving them part of your list for items at the market. They will feel useful and you will benefit from their help.

Schedule Events - Have a schedule of events and stick to it as best you can. Changing activities and venues allows you to be engaged with your guests while alleviating some of the predictable stress.

Overlook Criticisms - If they criticize your space, your interior decoration, the fact that the plumbing sings when the shower is on remind them that this is your refuge and you like it as it is but understand it can be a challenge to those who are not used to it. You may think ducking your head to get into the dormer bedroom is quaint but your tall houseguest may wonder how many bruises he will have when he leaves.

You can endure the not-so-perfect guest. It may be helpful to consider this time with guests as learning opportunities about yourself and others, adding a whole new level of tolerance and dimension to your relationships.

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