Christmas is coming with all the excitement and joy it can bring. So why doesn’t it always feel that way?It’s well known that referrals to relationship counsellors (and divorce lawyers) go up in January after the Christmas holidays. The reasons are many: too much alcohol that leads to arguments; anxiety about buying the right presents; worry about debt or inability to buy gifts and for some, a sense of loneliness and isolation. Sometimes the very fact that a couple are cooped up in the same house with over excited children for longer than usual can emphasise cracks in the relationship.

So what can you do to alleviate this? Here are some pointers to help you survive the Christmas season:

  • Use the run up to Christmas to talk about what you really want. Think about your budget, types of food and the people you want (and don’t want!) to see over the coming weeks. Be honest about your hopes and expectations.
  • Keep it simple. Complicated plans can lead to tension and anxiety. If you know a particular visit will cause trouble, how can you avoid this?
  • Watch your alcohol content. Drinking too much disinhibits emotion and can cause you to say things you wish you hadn’t the next day.
  • If finances are tight, try to prioritise what you will buy. Handmade or personal gifts often mean more than expensive items.
  • Show your partner how much they mean to you with praise and affection rather than hoping they will understand because you bought an expensive gift.
  • If you’re on your own this year, don’t try to duplicate past Christmases with others. Make a list of the things you would like to do. Think creatively. What would please you andĀ give you a positive sense of self esteem?

Merry Christmas to all.