Coping With Family Over Christmas

There is a lot of pressure on a single day of the year – Christmas !  Whilst it can be a wonderful day of love, traditions and togetherness there is can also be lot of stress associated with the weight of expectations on Christmas celebrations looking a certain way.

Family relationships can be amplified, small niggles of discontent can grow in the pressure cooker of family get togethers. Buying the “right” gift, saying the “right” thing, coping with that relative that seems to say the “wrong” thing at every opportunity.

As this festive season fast approaches and stress is on the rise here are a few ideas to help you cope with Christmas

Check in with your expectations and lower them where possible

Life is not a Christmas movie, and is never “Perfect”. Check that your expectations are realistic for yourself and of others. Try to have an open mind and be flexible if things don’t go quite the way you pictured them going. Catch when you are using the phrase “Should of” “ought to” and “Must” in your thinking and see if you can reframe these expectations of Christmas that are unrealistic.

Have a plan of how to cope

Give a little thought about what your triggers with your family are. Think about how you will manage these stressful situations before they are on top of you. This will give you the opportunity to develop a response that is planned and prevent “heat of the moment” response which can bring with them further issues. A planned response will lead to better communications and potentially reduce conflict.

Don’t revert to your childhood ways

Others in the family may but if you can steer clear it will shift the dynamic somewhat. Also, you CAN choose to steer your conversation or behaviour in healthy mature ways. Steer clear of controversial topics and have some safe conversation starters ready to go in case a difficult conversation do come up.

Limit the amount of time you spend at events or with people you know are stressful

“We will be there for lunch but we have to leave by 2pm as we have made some plans with friends.” Boundaries with time can be useful and give you an easy exit were necessary. When you know your patience is wearing thin, step away to a bedroom, walk around the block, go do the dishes or head off before the situation gets out of hand.

Have a think about how much alcohol, caffeine, sugar, social media is helpful for you

Sometimes we can use these things to “Get through” but they can contribute to heighten anxiety and emotional overload. Think about reducing these things over the Christmas season

Self care

It can be difficult at Christmas time to stick to your usual routines but routines help reduce stress and can make us feel more secure. Schedule some me time each day. Keep up your exercise, be mindful of good sleep habits and eat well without too much overindulging. Staying consistent with routine will help you over the Christmas Period to look after yourself and maintain your sense of self which will give you capacity to cope with what you family may throw your way.

Remember that Christmas is not just about you and your experience of it

Focus on the things you are grateful for and do something nice for someone else.

More Information

Throughout December we will be exploring the topic ‘Wrapping Up The Year’. We look at shining a light on mental health, and how you can survive through the holiday blues. We then look to the new year with the psychology behind how to set new year’s resolutions that last. 

For more information contact us today. Please send us an email, give us a call at (02) 9929 8515, check out our LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook or find more Psych Up! resources here.

For more information contact us today. Please send us an email, give us a call at (02) 9929 8515, check out our LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook or find more Psych Up! resources here.