Managing Christmas conflicts

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Health Assured team

13 December 2022

Christmas is supposed to be a time for joy and cheer. But sometimes, this assumption can add an element of pressure to the mix. There’s an expectation that the festive season should be happy families and perfect moments. Yet many people find that this isn’t always the case.

Christmas brings together families and relatives that might not interact often, and because there’s a lot of history between family members, tensions can easily rise. Views can clash, disagreements occur, and family dynamics can change over time which can take some adjustment to get used to.

Often the stress of the Christmas season can lead to festive fatigue and frustrations if things don’t go as planned, and when alcohol is involved, it can exacerbate these tensions even further. If you’re concerned about potential disagreements over the Christmas season, you can find our tips for managing Christmas conflicts below.


Don’t forget your own needs. Often when there is a lot on the to-do list, it can be hard to make time for yourself. But self-care is vital to protecting your wellbeing. And when you’re feeling good in your own mental and physical health, you are better equipped to handle challenges—whilst maintaining your equilibrium and calm. Protect your energy by looking after your own needs first this year.

Have a backup plan 

If things get heated, and you end up in an uncomfortable confrontation, it can be helpful to have a backup plan to fall back on if things start escalating out of control. You can avoid lashing out and saying hurtful comments you might later regret by removing yourself from the situation even just for a little while. Going for a walk or taking half an hour to yourself will help to diffuse some of the pent-up energy that may have been building. After taking some time, you can go back to the situation with a calmer mind and hopefully come to a better conclusion.

Confide in someone you trust 

They say a problem shared is a problem halved. If you’re nervous about family gatherings over the festive season, don’t keep it all inside bottled up—try confiding in someone you trust. By sharing how you feel with others, you can release some of your worries. Talking offers you a chance to step back from difficult emotions so you can understand and process them better. 

Be compassionate 

When conflicts occur, keep an open mind and listen to what the other person says. Show empathy and understanding of where the other person is coming from. When you can be compassionate in your responses, you encourage an open flow of conversation which can bring down others’ barriers. You don’t have to neglect your boundaries to show compassion for others.


Finding some level of acceptance can help you take some of the niggling comments or difficult conversations in your stride. By stepping into the Christmas season knowing that things might not always go to plan, you create a buffer that reduces reactivity and lessens the emotional impact of any challenges.

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