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3 tips for managing Mother’s Day stress

As a holiday that honors the most lovely yet loaded of relationships, Mother's Day isn't all flowers and candy. Dr. Christiane Northrup explains how to deal.

Mother, daughterAs a holiday that honors the most lovely yet loaded of relationships, Mother’s Day isn’t all flowers and candy.

For many, Mother’s Day is a “high holy day of family obligation,” says Christiane Northrup, MD, a women’s health and wellness expert and author of Mother-Daughter Wisdom: Creating a Legacy of Emotional and Physical Health. So any tension in the mother-daughter relationship may surface around this day.

If your mom (or daughter) drives you crazy, she may well guilt you into spending time with her. If your mom is (or was) amazing but you can’t be with her, you may feel empty. If you’re struggling with infertility, depression may set in. And then there are the expectations.

We asked Dr. Northrup for some simple tips to avoid these issues before the big day rolls around. Here are the big three:

Dr. Christiane Northrup
Dr. Christiane Northrup

1. Make thoughtful plans. If your relationship is strained, “advance planning is key,” says Dr. Northrup. Choose an activity with that you will both enjoy, and make sure it has a time limit. Or invite other people to join you to dilute the tension. May we suggest restorative yoga and a massage?

2. Honor your mom (and yourself) more often. If you’re thankful for your mom more often, then Mother’s Day won’t loom so large and menacing. Dr. Northrup suggests calling your mom a few days before the holiday or helping her out when you haven’t been asked. “Surprise and delight her as part of your regular life—not just once a year,” she says. “That—more than anything else—will manage expectations!”

3. Don’t avoid. Remember. If your mom is no longer around, put up a picture of her or light a candle and spend 10 minutes recalling your favorite memories of her. “I have a friend who keeps an altar to her mother at all times,” explains Dr. Northrup. “She goes into that room to ask her mother’s advice. And it always comes—in one form or another.” —Lisa Elaine Held