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Ah, Christmas.  Season of goodwill and festive cheer.  Only, for many, it's a season of stress and family arguments.

So what ideas can we give to help at this time of year?  We put together 4 top tips to help...

1. Recognise that it can be stressful.  This is a bit of a "know your enemy" strategy.  In this case, the enemy isn't your uncle Albert, but it's stress.  People come together under one roof and often in cramped conditions.  We each have our own traditions and expectations and when lots of people come together, there is likely to be some tension.  Being prepared for this can help, so it's less of a surprise (and therefore, less stress) when it arrives.

2. Get some fresh air!  Too often, we spend Christmas sitting eating, drinking, watching TV and vegetating.  While this is a good rest for many of us, it means we're like sardines in a tin.  Getting outdoors for fresh air (even if just having a coffee in the garden or a walk round the block or walking the dog) can be a good way to let off steam and burn off some of these calories.   Plus, it's a great way of getting some much needed space.

3. Don't drink so much!  And we're including caffeine in this.  It might sound a bit of a dampener on festivities, but alcohol fuels conflict.  The more you drink, the less inhibited you become.  This means you don't politely smile at the comment you really disagree with, but you launch a tirade of abuse at someone, bringing up ancient history to get things off your chest at the same time.  Remember that coffee doesn't sober you up, either.  It stimulates you with caffeine.  So a drunk person with lots of coffee in their system will now be a less inhibited and stimulated individual.  There's a reason our brain tells us to curl up on the sofa and sleep...

4.  Plan ahead.  You know yourself and you know your family.  Expecting each year to be different is like hoping that it won't rain at the weekend.  You might be lucky, but hoping doesn't change anything.  Instead, think about your activities.  If you're the organiser of the Christmas event, try to have activities that involve cooperation and fun, instead of just drinking.  If playing monopoly ends up in world war 3, then why not try pictionary instead (other games are available!).  Also, bear in mind that younger people need different entertainment from older folk.  There's no rule that says we all have to be in the same room at the same time.  Many families will have a room for the children and a "quieter" room for older folk.  Basically, find out what works for you and plan ahead to avoid unnecessary tension.

The Craigie Partnership and our team of psychologists would like to wish all our readers a stress-free, relaxing and peaceful Christmas!

Email us: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Tel: 0131 215 1066
Craigie Partnership, (Psychology & Coaching), Scott House, 10 South St Andrew Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2AZ

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