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Disagreements within the family can arise for many reasons; maybe your views clash, you hold differing opinions or history from the past makes it hard to talk on an even front. Families can be complex dynamics, and especially at this time of year, Christmas brings together extended families that might not see eye to eye—while the pressure of a happy festive season can heighten tensions even further.
Everyone’s family life will be different, and it’s important to remember that disagreements are normal from time to time. But if you’re worried about spending more time at home over Christmas, try out our tips below.
Communication is key to any resolution. And hand in hand with resolution comes compromise. Even if you don’t want to resolve the situation entirely, accommodating others' opinions allows you to put down hostility and meet in the middle with a greater perspective.
Actively listen to the other person without judging what they bring to the conversation. It can be easy to jump to conclusions in the heat of the moment but try to show empathy for the other person if you can and understand where they are coming from.
In an argument, it can be easy to assert yourself and your point of view. Sometimes this can occur when the urge to win, be right, or even just be heard out takes over. It’s hard to remain calm when you’re feeling unacknowledged, overlooked or misunderstood. But it can help to ease tensions if you focus on keeping calm.
Not everyone will agree on everything; that’s a fact of life. So it can be helpful to accept differences when they arise. You might never make it to that compromise or conclusion. But if you can agree to disagree, you can tolerate differences, keep the peace and avoid unnecessary arguments or disagreements.
Giving yourself space is a good way to cool down from hostile conversations and ensure you’re in the right place to deal with them if they arise. When you look after your wellbeing and reduce your stress levels, you’re less likely to snap or retaliate in the face of conflict.
Over the Christmas break, make sure you make time for things you enjoy, whether that’s reading, watching films, seeing friends or going out. When you limit the amount of time you spend in uncomfortable environments, you’ll find that your tolerance for stressful situations increases, and you can handle them more effectively.
Keeping feelings bottled up can cause emotions to overflow, leaving you overwhelmed and easily irritated. If you’re upset, down or frustrated about home conflicts, reach out to a friend or someone you trust about how you feel. Getting those thoughts and feelings off your chest will allow you room to breathe and gain some perspective. You can take a step back and decide how to move forward.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to anyone you know, don’t be afraid to seek support. This support could be directly from your college or university, or via a Student Assistant Programme if you have one. Speaking confidentially with a counsellor can help you reflect on your feelings and decide on a course of action.
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