Guide to the festive season

MERRY CHRISTMAS: We hope you have a great time.

FOR many people, the holidays and Christmas can be not only a very happy and joyous time reuniting with family and friends, but also a very stressful time. Old patterns of behaviour emerge, our stress levels go up, and our ability to cope flies out the window. There’s stress and constant motion for many, as well as feelings of being overwhelmed, depression and even loneliness for others.

Are you spending Christmas with your extended family? Are you dreading it? How are you going to cope? One idea is to pretend that they’re dead, really, it may sound like a terrible idea, but it works.

Here’s your ‘cut out and keep’ strategy guide to making it through the festive season.


1) Try not to say something you will regret. Think before you speak. Keep an eye on what you are drinking if susceptible to an alcohol fuelled blabfest.

2) Bring back up; perhaps bring a new friend to keep every-one on their best behaviour.

3) Try to stay at a hotel if you can afford it, it keeps some space between you and the rellies.

4) Under no circumstances should you commit to any event in the future, be vague. Get through the days.

5) Be helpful, do the washing up, drive someone home, keep busy.

6) Engage people in conversation, get them to speak about themselves, people love to answer questions.

7) Get out of the house, if you feel like you’re in a pressure cooker then grab your shoes and get outside. Take the dog if you can, the dog can take the blame if you have to escape every couple of hours.

8) Get a perspective. Imagine you are looking down on yourself and your relatives from the ceiling:  watch with amusement, and detachment. Observe.

9) Pretend everyone is dead. Imagine the feelings. Then remember that they aren’t and feel happy to see them all alive. You may even start to feel grateful for them!

10) Imagine living with these people all of the time, in close confinement. Imagine how stressful it would feel to be in this situation forever, then realise that it will all be over soon. And try to find something positive to remember the day by.

So, start with yourself. The most important thing to remember is that we can’t make anyone else be different. All we can do is resolve that we ourselves will do something differently. There is no point in arguing, cajoling or even reasoning if people are resistant.

Be positive. Act happy and you’ll get happy. When I was growing up, my mum used to tell me about how lots of people got really depressed over Christmas. I asked why. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could feel anything but excitement. My mum would say, “Well, it’s because some people don’t have family to spend time with.” When I was a teenager, I decided she had it backwards: people got depres-sed over Christmas because they had to spend time with their families. But family obligations can be better with a little pre-planning. If someone wishes you a ‘Happy Christmas!’ then remember it’s down to you to make it one. Happy Christmasses don’t just happen. 

I hope you have a great time, lots of love, O, G and V xxx


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