Christmas is one of those times where families like to come together to share a meal, plenty of chocolate and a lot of time together. That may all sound fine and dandy, but if you find certain members of your family a real struggle, it can be anything but.
Most us have toxic relatives in some form – whether it’s your parents, a sibling or a distant aunt who seemingly wants to spend hours quizzing your life choices – who really make spending quality time together a wholly unenjoyable and anxiety-ridden experience. While we can’t remove them from your life completely, our top tips for managing your long festive period together will hopefully help ease the whole situation.
Kill them with kindness
It’s an age-old tactic that actually works, if you feel it’s the right one for you. Avoid your usual bickering and bouts of confrontation by just being plain nice, whether that means finding any shred of common ground to talk about or just not talking to them at all (apart from asking them to pass the gravy, obvs). Give them no reason to get shirty with you and you’ll leave the situation feeling all-round happier.
Set a time limit
There’s nothing worse than having to spend all day and all night with someone you find yourself clashing with. If you’re at home, try to draw yourself away from the situation after a few hours. Pick up a book, go for a walk, pop to the shop – anything that takes you away from their company for a while is going to be productive.
Make your own plans
The Christmas period is a long one, so be sure to make plans with friends, colleagues or classmates that will get you out of the house. Booking tickets for something in advance is always advisable, making your plans inflexible and solid. That doesn’t mean you should disappear completely though – do make time for your family, just don’t give them every waking second.
If family dinners are sure to stress you out (especially when your nan brings up Brexit, again), try meditating before and after the encounter. Great apps like Headspace will help you keep negative energy at bay, encouraging you to focus on positive thoughts and emotions. And if it all gets a little too much while you’re sat with your family, try breathing in for five seconds and exhaling for five seconds – this simple breathing exercise can help calm you down and stop you going head-first into yet another argument.
You are not alone
It may sound cliché, but you really aren’t alone in your family frustrations. Many of us will feel the tension in someway or another this weekend, so make sure you talk to a friend if you’re feeling particularly stressed out. And remember, chocolate can help to relieve stress, so tucking into your advent calendar is sure to help too.
However, if you feel you really can’t cope and it’s affecting your mental health, there are many organisations you can turn to for help and support.