It is strange that Christmas, a time when people should be at their happiest, can often turn out to be a miserable time for many, with the reality falling far sort of the idealised family gatherings portrayed in advertisements and television programmes at this time of year.
The reality is that tremendous strain can be put on everyone within families, many members of whom are harbouring tensions with other members of the gathering, and they are artificially put together for hours on end when many would rather be elsewhere.
There are though, little adjustments that you can make to avoid unnecessary stress this Christmas.
If you are hosting, plan the day in advance with people knowing what tasks they have to do on the day. That way resentment won’t build up making you feel you have all the wok to do and are being taken for granted. Ask others what they want to do so that everyone feels their views have been taken into account.
Weather permitting, plan some outdoor activities, such as a long walk, especially for the children so that they can get tired naturally, rather than tired through arguing.
And of course, don’t drink too much, as this can lead to the wrong things being said at the wrong time.
If the financial cost of Christmas is proving too much, then talk to your family in advance about agreeing a price that people spend on presents, or agree only to give them to the children. Don’t wander about the stores aimlessly when Christmas shopping, take a list and stick to it, or shop on the internet well in advance.
If providing Christmas lunch for everyone is stretching your budget then ask family members to each bring an item, such as ice-cream or soup with them, especially if you praise their soup-making capabilities.
Trickiest of all, of course, is relationships with other members of the family. First, be realistic. Don’t expect a miracle, even if it is Christmas. So if there are members of the family that you normally fall out with then avoid the triggers. Don’t discuss religion, politics or football if those have been the flash points at previous gatherings. Change the subject if they crop up. Keep everyone busy with a walk or simple games. Don’t serve too much alcohol.
Use simple relaxation techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing or progressive muscle relaxation if you feel your tension mounting. If that fails, have a list of small tasks you can use as distraction techniques that will take you away from the situation for a few minutes, feeding the dog, putting food out for the birds, dropping off a late Christmas card at a neighbour’s house.
But most of all try to relax. It is not your job to make sure that everyone has a fabulous Christmas – that responsibility does not lie with one person. Remember, it really is just one day of the year.
Have a great Christmas, from everyone at Equilibria.