How to Cope with Family Conflicts This Christmas, According to a Life Coach

Christmas is a celebratory, joyous event, but that doesn’t always mean it’s perfect… You might find yourself spending time with family amid an ongoing conflict, whilst Christmas pressures can cause fresh disagreements. From how you should carve the turkey to debates about letting the kids open presents before dinner, there are a lot of decisions that can muddy the water.

To help you cope with family conflicts this Christmas, Sarah Kauter, a life coach and founder of The Athena Method, is sharing her top tips:

1. Understand your values and boundaries. 

If you don’t understand your own values and boundaries, how can you expect anyone else to? Think about the things you are and are not comfortable with; what exactly is it that triggers you? Once you’ve set these clear boundaries in your mind, be sure to share them with loved ones – especially any friends or relatives you think you’ll struggle with at Christmas. 

For example, if you have an overbearing family member, tell her what upsets you and where your boundaries lie. This communication will reduce the likelihood of any new tension emerging over the holidays.

2. Find someone to connect with at the end of the day.

If you can, find one person, be that your partner, a friend, or a family member, who you can talk to at the end of a potentially chaotic day. It’s incredibly helpful to have someone you can speak to, sharing your concerns and getting anotherperspective. Ultimately, having any kind of support over the holidays will be beneficial.

3. Set realistic expectations.

Expecting your Christmas to be perfect without any disagreements along the way is usually unrealistic… This time of year puts a lot of pressure on people and everyone might be a little more stressed than usual, especially if there are children running around. 

Make sure your expectations are realistic; there may well be a disagreement or two, but that’s okay. What’s most important is your ability to overcome this and pick things back upafterwards.

4. Make time for yourself.

This one isn’t always easy; Christmas can be a demanding celebration and you might be pulled in multiple directions with an endless to-do list. However, it is important that you make time for yourself and invest in self-care – if only to protect your sanity. Whether that’s a morning spent relaxing, an hour to enjoy a coffee with your favourite series, or just five minutes to take a breather, try to prioritise your wellbeing for the benefit of both you and everyone around you.

5. Avoid sensitive subjects.

If there are conversations you know are likely to cause tension, avoid them as best you can. Similarly, if someone else brings up a fraught topic, suggest you all give it a miss! Be ready to change the conversation with a light-hearted alternative.

6. Take a step back.

When things get a little too much, take a step back. Sometimes a break can do the world of good. Step into another room and take a moment for yourself, go on a walk, or run an errand alone – anything that will allow you to be with your thoughts and process your emotions.

7. Advocate for yourself.

Don’t be afraid to speak up and advocate for yourself. If someone is doing something that’s upsetting you, gently tell them – it might not have been their intention. In any instance, this will make them aware that changes need to be made.

8. Remember what Christmas is all about.

Ultimately, Christmas is a holiday that reminds us of what’s most important: family, love, and connectedness. You might have arguments or be experiencing a more deep-rooted conflict, but if there’s ever a time to put disagreements to bed, it’s Christmas.’

If you think you would benefit from personalised, professional support, visit www.athena-method.co.uk.

Tatiana Rehmova

A glass half-full kind of a girl and a believer that everything happens for a reason, Tatiana works in Media Relations and is the Content Producer at Enhancv. She loves writing, spotting inspiring stories, and building meaningful relationships.