10 Survival Tips for Christmas

Tis the season to be jolly’ so the carol goes, but when Chico Marx said to Groucho, ‘There ain’t no Sanity Clause!’ he had a point.

While aiming to be bright and merry, I know Christmas can be stressful as we try to fit hoards of extra activities into our schedules and all around us there are reminders that the clock is ticking down to the day. Factor in long hours spent with family members and a huge dollop of over indulgence and I’m wondering if Santa got the best deal – popping in unseen when everyone is asleep. Enough of the bar humbug!

Tree with Christmas lightsWhether you will be ensconced with family or an expat making a Skype call home, I hope these practical tips and thoughts on resilience will help ease the path to a happy Christmas.

1. Think positive, but be realistic; how do you normally feel the day after Christmas? What words does it conjure up for you and what would you like to be different this year?

2. When you feel your inner eight year old (the badly behaved part) about to respond to something your sibling throws out there, it’s probably time to make your excuses and leave (or at least pay a visit to the smallest room in the house). There you can take a few slow, deep breaths and ask yourself if you really want to bite or let it go.

3. Close your eyes and imagine anyone who is annoying you wrapped in a ball of golden stringy light – preferably without a piece of the string around their neck – sound weird? Try it anyway or imagine your own positive image and aim to keep interactions authentic and respectful.

4. Family gatherings can be a breeding ground for attention and admiration seeking behaviours. Maintain distance from anyone who is really gunning to push your buttons, you could also change the subject by having a few positive things ready to say.

5. Drink a glass of water between alcoholic ones and eat light between the feasts (avoid sugar, fats and processed carbohydrates if you can, at those times).

6. Plan longer journeys and if you need to, check the weather forecast and traffic hotspots before setting off to avoid disappointment and stress.

7. Get out in the fresh air and take some of your favourite exercise (or if you don’t have one, choose the one you loath least) it will boost happy hormones into your system. A family walk together is a shared experience and might pass time in a positive way.

8. Enjoy the company of young children and their presents, if they become fractious give them a fair warning before disciplining them and make sure everyone gets enough sleep.

9. Spreading a little goodwill can make you feel nice; contact someone who you imagine would like to hear from you. Remember John Lennon said, ‘And so this is Christmas . . . what have you done?

10. Know that you deserve to enjoy the festive season, remember what you like about it and if it still proves challenging, take heart, it will soon be over.


Forgive me one last quotation, ‘A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together,’ author Garrison Keillor.

So keep smiling and remember if you find yourself struggling at this time, you are not alone.

If you would like more help, here is a link to Mind’s 10 commandments of stress reduction at Christmas: http://www.mind.org.uk/blog/8084_10_ways_to_reduce_christmas_stress

If you have any comments or tips to add, please share them below.


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