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Easing the Family Pressures at Christmas Time
By Nicola Forshaw, NJ Coaching

What are you most looking forward to this Christmas?  Buying presents for those you love?  Christmas carols and mulled wine?  Or family ‘feuding’ over the mince pies?

There is no denying that Christmas can be a magical and wonderful time, but it can be a time of great pressure when it comes to spending time with the family. This is a time when old grudges and bad feelings that are being harboured can become ignited and spiral out of control.

To ensure you have a ‘family-friendly’ Christmas, try asking yourself the following:-

  • Who specifically in my family do I have a concern about spending time with over Christmas?
  • What is the issue? 
  • How might I have contributed to this issue?
  • What can I do to resolve my feelings?  Am I able to set my feelings aside for the festive period, and get on with enjoying time with my loved ones?
  • If I am not able to resolve or set aside my feelings, would it be a better decision to not spend time with this person?

If you really come to the conclusion that you are not able to set aside or resolve your negative feelings, then how do you make it so that you don’t have to spend Christmas with them?  This is a tough decision to make, but this is your special time too.  What impact would this decision have on the rest of the family?

Preparation is key when dealing with potential conflict. Sometimes we are too busy doing the shopping that we don’t think about communicating with family about some of our worries, concerns and negative feelings BEFORE Christmas.

Good, prepared communication generates understanding and compassion for your own feelings, as well as those of others.  It is always best to work out your feelings first, rather than just blurt out bad feelings during a sherry-fuelled, turkey-stuffing rage!  For example, if your Mother-in-Law spends most of Christmas day criticising you, it may be better to talk to your husband about this, but remember to ‘own’ your feelings. “Christmas is a really special time for us, but I really feel offended and deflated when your mother doesn’t seem to enjoy it” invites an open discussion and resolution; rather than “your mother does nothing but moan and nag, I can’t stand her, and it’s your entire fault for inviting her”.  The latter is more likely to provoke an argument, leading to unnecessary misery all round!

Christmas is for spending time with those we love, to take time out and appreciate being together.  Communicating in a timely and honest way whilst being able to compromise can lead to a more pleasant and relaxing Christmas all round. 

Make the most of this special time of year - perhaps this is quality time you would not normally have with your relatives.  It may be one of your New Year’s resolutions to work together at improving a family relationship to avoid possible conflicts in future.  Enjoy!

Nicola Forshaw is a professional life coach with an advanced diploma. She is dedicated to supporting life/work aspirations, and is an experienced relationship coach. Nicola offers a FREE initial consultation. Contact her at or you can visit her website at


The above information should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional.







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