How to cope with family tensions over Christmas

Published: 6th December 2021
Area: Family

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12 Days of Christmas - Day 7: Seven swans a-swimming

Retailers and marketers would have you believe that Christmas is a time of year we all look forward too – precious time off work, Christmas parties, giving and receiving gifts, the perfect Christmas with family  - many of whom you do not see often at all.

Settling down to spend Christmas day together can be stressful and often doesn’t go to plan.  So how can you survive the day?  Here’s a few tips to help you through

  • Be mindful of what you say

    Show respect towards your family and expect the same in return. Often tensions can arise because of brutal honesty or unsolicited advice. Consider your words carefully before you open your mouth and don’t say anything you would not like said to you.

  • Be realistic

    If rifts exist already, they are not going to go away for Christmas day. Keep conversation light and hope that everyone finishes the day as happily as they can.

  • Let it go

    This time of year can be stressful and someone will know what buttons to press to get a reaction so pick your battles wisely and perhaps save them for another day.

  • Your guest list

    Playing the role of referee at Christmas is not good for the mind or soul, so scale it down this year and spread it out.  You don’t need to see everyone on one day.  Different relatives on different days makes for a calmer Christmas.

  • Focus on you

    At a time of year when time is precious and there is the opportunity to take a little time off hopefully, remember that you do not to do it ALL.  It can help to delegate jobs on Christmas Day, that can include asking for help with food prep, washing up, assistance with childcare etc.

    It can all seem a little overwhelming so focus on what makes you happy – and make plans accordingly.  If there is an expectation (as there often is), make sure you have those conversations early so people know what is (and is not) happening. 

    Also remember the basics of self care, like good sleep, fresh air, plenty of water, and all of this will help with the inevitable excesses.

At a time of year when it can all get a bit frantic and you feel a bit like you are paddling for your life, remember the seven swans a swimming and try to slow down and glide through the festive season. You will come out the other side feeling calmer and ready for the new year.

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