10 tips to cope with family stress over Christmas

The holiday season is upon us, and for many people this means fun, sun and a full social schedule. For other people, though, the season fills them with dread.

Forget what Hallmark cards and advertisements tell you; not everyone enjoys the holiday season. Stress, anxiety and arguments are regular features of Christmastime for lots of us.

It’s not always due to the in-laws from another planet, as you might assume. Sometimes stress might be because of good situations, like hosting a big party for your loved ones and friends. Common stressors include:

  • Children who may not be spending Christmas with you
  • A relationship breakdown
  • An influx of family members who aren’t usually in your day-to-day life
  • Loneliness or spending a lot of time alone when it seems everyone else has somewhere to be
  • Being single
  • Financial strain
  • A lack of structure and routine
  • Pressure from hosting events
  • Constant socialising and no personal time
  • Overindulging on food and alcohol
  • Working long hours to get everything completed before holidays
  • Social media
  • Family members or in-laws you might not get along with
  • Expectations on what the holiday season ‘should’ mean or ‘should’ be like.

Relationships are a huge cause of emotional upheaval. We will explore intimate relationships further in a later blog, but today let’s talk about family relationships. Some of us get along famously with our family members, but many people have one or two (or more) people who make things difficult. Here are 10 strategies for surviving the minefield that is Christmas with the family:

Tip 1: As much as certain people may get on your nerves, you can only control your behaviour. Limit the time you spend with these people and take regular breaks –  even if it’s just five minutes to take a breather outside.

Tip 2: Calm yourself beforehand. Go for a walk, try some relaxation techniques, get a massage and avoid over-scheduling yourself.

Tip 3: Give troublesome people a task. This will keep them busy and out of your hair.

Tip 4: Find out what your emotional stressors are and how you are expressing them. A few sessions with a Kinesiologist can help. We all carry around emotional trauma and negative thinking patterns – sometimes throughout life. You may find Christmas exacerbates childhood issues that have been lurking beneath the surface.

Tip 5: If you’ve had a relationship breakdown, it’s okay to allow yourself to feel sad or miss what the holiday season was like before – particularly if children are involved.

Tip 6: Be more empathetic. The person in question might be stressed or upset about something completely unrelated to you or the family.

Tip 7: If you know what these people in your life will be like, don’t expect things to be different (and if it is, it’ll be a pleasant surprise). Understand when and where the fights or tension usually occur and how you have dealt with it positively before, and how you’ve dealt with it negatively.

Tip 8: If you don’t have much family or you’re estranged, get involved in public events like Carols by Candlelight or street Christmas light displays, or attend “Orphans’ Christmas” lunches that social groups and hotels put on.

Tip 9: Eat before going to a function. You don’t want low blood sugar or to be feeling on edge when you enter a stressful situation. And avoid drinking too much alcohol, which could aggravate an otherwise harmless situation. You may end up blurting out things you’ll later regret.

Tip 10: It might feel like it’s meant to be a special day but, really, it is just another day in your life.

If you know you’ll be facing stress and family issues at Christmas, now is the time to get it sorted. Kinesiology can help you uncover your triggers and work through any negative emotions. It will assist you in remaining calm amongst the emotional stress of this Christmas period. To find out more or to book an appointment, call us on (08) 9330 7443.

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