Ah, good old Christmas Day, getting all the family together to share some festive cheer. Except it doesn't always go that way - you may be forced to spend time with relatives you've spent all year avoiding for whatever reason, and this can make things tense.
Long-held resentments can resurface when surrounded by your family, and sometimes childhood behaviours can return. There are ways to minimise the effects though if you think ahead about how you are going to behave, and then take charge of yourself and your emotions on the day.
Here are 7 steps to follow to ensure you enjoy your Christmas with your relatives this year, thanks to Suzanne Masefield from The Body Language Company at Think Success:
1. Identify your triggers
Look out for what is triggering your unwanted emotions, such as a specific relative mentioning something you don't like to talk about. Stay aware of what in particular upsets or angers you.
2. Press pause
You're likely to automatically go into fight or flight mode when you've been triggered, so remember to take a deep breath and just take a moment to not react.
3. Choose your age
Sometimes a dominant older relative can cause you to revert back to your teenage behaviours, so be aware of your actual age and how you should be reacting, instead of reacting as a rebellious teenager. Remember you are an adult and try not to slip back into childhood roles.
4. Address issues
"There's always an elephant in the room. Whether it's a person, a behaviour pattern... I think you need to pick your time and place, and if you need to take someone aside, maybe take them out for a walk, to just chat with someone and say 'you know, you used to say that to me when I was 15 and it used to upset me, but now I'm 40, I really feel like I can talk to you about that, because I want to have a nice relationship with you and that really triggers me. So is there any way we can work with this?'" Suzanne Masefield says.
5. Monitor your drinking
Christmas time tends to involve a fair bit of alcohol, which is something to be mindful of. Having a few too many drinks can lower your inhibitions, which is when things can start to escalate. Just keep an eye on how much you're drinking and don't let it reach that stage where you're saying things unfiltered by your sober mind.
6. Open body language
Opening your body language and smiling (even if it's through gritted teeth) will lower your cortisol levels, and raise your testosterone levels, which will give you more confidence.
7. Go for a walk
Giving yourself some time and breathing space is really important in dealing with conflict situations. If you feel yourself boiling over, take yourself away for a few minutes to relax and prevent any blow ups.
Hopefully following these steps can help you have a more enjoyable Christmas!