5 Tips to Survive the Festive Season

Christmas is just around the corner, children across the country are waiting with excited anticipation for the big day, but are you??

Christmas is considered to be one of our most stressful life events, it’s up there with divorce and moving house.   The demands upon us have already started – decorations to put up, presents to buy, overexcited children, school events that never end… the list goes on.

Our stress levels get a workout and expectations rise to ridiculous heights – in particular for families with strained relationships – why do we think that the people we try to avoid throughout the year are good people to be forced together with around a table with copious amounts of alcohol for an entire day?

So, what can we do to make our Christmas a time of peace and goodwill?

1. Relationships

If relationships with family members are fractious through the year this is unlikely to disappear on 25th December.  Sitting around the dinner table and tucking into the turkey is not the time to raise and address issues that are under your skin, neither is it the time to discuss topics that you know another person has a strong and different opinion on (politics comes to mind with this one!).  If discussions begin to edge away from an exchange of views towards an exchange of blows then removing yourself from the environment is a good idea.  Although, let’s be real, in some families you may find yourself getting up and down from the dinner table to remove yourself from the situation so many times that your indigestion will last for a week. In my family, which consists of many differing views of the world, we have a Christmas time “safe word”, this is a word that everyone knows ends a discussion that could be going south.   No doubt this year will be no different to other years and our safe word will be used endlessly!

2. Don’t Over-Commit

Trying to please everyone will inevitably lead to you not pleasing yourself.  It’s wonderful that you receive lots of invitations or that your children’s school/s have lots of events – it doesn’t mean you have to go to all of them.  Give yourself permission to choose the events you attend, it’s ok to politely decline an invitation, “thank you so much for inviting me, unfortunately I can’t make it but look forward to catching up in the new year”.  Don’t feel as if you have to come up with a reason or make up an excuse!

3. Finances

It can be very easy to fall into debt over Christmas and start the new year with more stress.

Set your budget and stick to it!

Remember that the cost of Christmas extends beyond just buying gifts, it includes things like additional food and travel expenses.  If you are using credit to get through the holiday, it’s important to factor this into your expenses for the new year.  Try to avoid shopping at times when there are crowds of people, you could be tempted to grab items and get out quick, which could mean you’re not considering price.

4. Food and Alcohol

One of my favourite things about Christmas, but the after effects are not.  All things in moderation.  Alcohol and difficult relationships don’t mix well at all, pace yourself, make sure you eat well to soak up the booze, drink water!

5. Gratitude

You’ve probably read about the benefits of practising gratitude – I shall be ensuring I remind myself frequently, that I’m grateful Christmas only comes once a year!


Tina Winchester

Director – Mental Health

CDC & Mentally Well Workplaces