Christmas survival guide

Most of us approach Christmas with genuine goodwill and positive intentions but that doesn’t mean that things always work out.

Exhaustion, financial stress, heat, alcohol and lots of togetherness can lead to interpersonal friction that can ruin your whole festive season.

With this in mind, psychotherapist and relationship specialist Melissa Ferrari says it’s important to be mindful of potential issues and safeguard against them.

Here are Melissa’s tips for how to ensure your relationships survive the holidays:

1. Be wary of overindulging

Office Christmas parties, family get-togethers, New Year’s Eve celebrations – they’re all situations where alcohol is likely to be consumed which could lead to unpleasant behaviour, heated arguments and regrettable actions with negative consequences. So remember to take it easy and be mindful that people under the influence can often say and do things they don’t mean.

2. Be kind

Understand that loved ones might be more stressed than usual and give them a bit more allowance for this. When people are busy or anxious they may come across the wrong way and unintentionally instigate conflict, so recognise it for what it is and don’t take the bait.

3. Set expectations

Clarity creates calm so discuss prior things such as where you’ll be on the important dates, what you’ll be doing, expectations around presents, who’s driving and who’s cooking. This way there’ll be no mixed messages between couples (and family members).

4. Share the load

Don’t just let one person be responsible for all tasks. Allocate jobs and get everyone involved in the planning and organisation. Not only will it be easier and help prevent disappointment, but it’s more fun that way too.

5. Support your loved ones

If your partner or a family member is anxious about something (such as seeing a particular relative), be there for them and let them know you’ve got their back. This alone can be extremely reassuring. In romantic relationships it’s referred to as the ‘couple bubble’ by Dr. Stan Tatkin – where you keep each other safe and secure, privately and publicly. So don’t forget this and give support willingly and openly.

6. Communicate

When stress goes up, communication often goes down. Remember to bring up any concerns you have around the holidays BEFORE they become an issue, and don’t forget to let your loved ones know how excited and happy you feel – good vibes are contagious.

7. Appreciate

Many people are alone during the holidays. So acknowledging those less fortunate is an easy way to feel gratitude for your own relationships and circumstances, which will make you less likely to argue or become upset. Reaching out to estranged family members or friends, and other acts of kindness towards strangers can also work wonders.

Got any other advice for us? Please feel free to share.



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