How to Cope With Family at Christmas

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Posted 149 days ago Latest
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How to Cope With Family at Christmas

Written by Dr Hannah Farnsworth

Lots of us find it difficult to spend long periods of time with other people at Christmas. Family gatherings can be a mixed bag of emotions, especially if you find yourself being asked too many questions, given too much irritating advice, having a clash of opinions, or not having your views respected.


The following tips will help you deal with your family over the festive period.


1 Set Realistic Expectations

It is normal for families to have disagreements, and Christmas rarely goes without a hitch. Instead of expecting a picture-perfect scene, understand that disagreements might happen and not every moment will feel joyful. Being prepared for this can make any challenges feel easier to deal with.


2 Take Breaks When Needed

Many of us struggle to spend long periods of time in the company of family members, especially if we don’t see eye to eye with a relative. It’s ok to take a break when you need to. Go for a walk, enjoy some me-time with a book, listen to music, or call a friend for a chat.


3 Find Common Ground

Despite differences in age, interests or opinions, it is often possible to find some common ground for conversations with family members. This could be the shared love of a certain book or film, talking about a favourite Christmas tradition, or the appreciation of good food.


Finding neutral common interests to talk about can make family time feel more enjoyable, and less stressful.


4 Express Your Feelings

If you feel overwhelmed or anxious it is ok to communicate this openly and respectfully. Choose a calm moment to explain how you feel. Use “I” statements such as, “I feel left out,” rather than, “you are all leaving me out”. Avoiding accusing others will help to prevent arguments flaring up. Sharing how you feel can help others better understand your point of view, easing any negative atmosphere at Christmas.


5 Get Involved

Becoming an active participant in family activities can help to shift the dynamic. Offering to help with putting up decorations, food preparation, or table setting can help to relieve someone else’s burden. Volunteering to do chores that are not specifically related to Christmas can also help, such as doing a load of laundry, washing up, or taking the dog for a walk.


Try to join in with games and conversations, and show an interest in what others are doing. By engaging with your family, you can foster opportunities for positive connections which may help you feel more settled.



Coping with relatives at Christmas can be a challenge for even the closest of families. Try to approach the holiday season with a positive mindset and some tactics up your sleeve to help you take care of your mental health if things start to feel overwhelming.

Posted by Dr Hannah Farnsworth

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