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Turn on the telly, reflect don’t regret and avoid social media and mirrors! 16 ways to stay sane this Christmas

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‘Tis the season to be merry – or stressed, broke, fat, hung over and irritable?

If you’re already firmly parked in the latter camp, take solace in these 16 calming Christmas thoughts…

People buy presents they like themselves. It’s not necessarily a reflection of your taste if you unwrap something you’d never wear/hang/use, EVER.

It doesn’t mean he thinks you’re fat if the lingerie he buys is over-sized. It means the sales assistant he tried to describe your shape to got it wrong.

Besides, the poor bugger can’t win. If he buys a size too small, you’ll be too embarrassed to say so and never wear it; if it’s too big, he gets the ‘I can’t believe you think I’d fit into that!”

Pick your battles. If you’ve put one hell of a lot of effort into buying your partner the perfect present and they’ve bought hastily and thoughtlessly at the last moment, you’re justified in being upset.

But rather than create a scene and ruin the day, be gracious in public and when you have a private moment simply say you were disappointed the present wasn’t more personal and you’d appreciate it if they put more thought into it next time around.

Keep your voice low and calm and drop the subject once you’ve said your piece. Being angry gets you an argument, saying you’re disappointed makes people think.

You don’t have to like your in-laws, but if you love your partner, you owe it to them to be polite and respectful.

If you honestly can’t bear them, minimize the time as much as possible. Take your time making the coffee. Disappear to the loo to take a few deep breaths. Take the dog for a walk. Escape to the one shop that’s open on Christmas Day (preferably miles away) to buy a crucial ingredient you neglected to buy.

Kill with kindness. If you really want to get to the person who’s been taking jabs at you for the last two hours, be indifferent. Smile politely at them now and then but subtly ignore them the rest of the time. Refusing to let someone get to you will infuriate far more than rising to the bait.

Christmas telly and movies are what will get you through. It gives you all something else to focus on, smooths over uncomfortable silences and gives you all a chance to breathe and relax. They’re also mood changers. The right tear-jerker can make feuding siblings soften.

We all regress to our childhood personalities when we’re with our families. It’s pointless fighting it, so accept that you’ll all move into the roles you had when you were growing up.

Have a joke with siblings about how you turn into ‘bossy big sis’ the minute you’re all together. Done light-heartedly, it shows self-awareness and can stop old resentments flaring.

Don’t get dragged into the slinging match. Put most families together for a long period, add alcohol and too much food and you’re bound to get the odd argument. Be the person to calm things down rather than ramp it up by being the mediator and seeing both sides.

If someone has an unjustified pop at you, say, “I’m sorry you feel that way. What can I do to make you feel better”. You’re not admitting they’re right but you are acknowledging their feelings and stopping it from escalating further.

If you think you feel bad after all that food and alcohol, the strain of small talk and sitting around bored out of your brains for hours on end, imagine how a child must feel.

At least you can rationalize it, their only way of letting off steam is to scream blue murder or throw an enormous tantrum. Can you really blame them?

If they’re your kids, remove them from company and let them have a kip of play somewhere quiet. If they’re someone else’s kids, stop glaring and muster up at least a sliver of sympathy.

Avoid social media if you’re feeling less than happy with where you’re at right now. All those pictures of smug couples posed against picture-postcard perfect Christmas trees with artfully wrapped presents and cute children and dogs is nauseating for everyone but especially get up your nose if you’re spending Christmas in less than fabulous surroundings with your sixth choice of people to be with.

Console yourself with the thought that no-one’s Christmas/family/children/lives are that perfect.

The most dysfunctional, unhappy family can look good for one carefully constructed, filtered photograph. Everyone has insecurities and internal battles.

Your mother-in-law’s cutting huge slabs of Christmas pudding minutes after you forced in the last mouthful of a piled high Christmas dinner?

Accept graciously, taste it and roll your eyes with pleasure, saying how delicious it is. Then say, “Do you know what? If I eat this now, I’m not going to appreciate it properly because I’m really full. I’m going to put it in the fridge and have it later when I can really enjoy it.”

Conveniently forget.

Now is not the time to be self-critical when you look in the mirror. You’ve had excess everything (except sleep) did you really expect to see a dewy complexion, bright eyes and a lean body reflected back?

Don’t beat yourself up for not sticking to the diet, buying the wrong gifts, not having a house that’s as beautiful as your best friend, not having a husband that’s as handsome, not having kids that are well behaved and play the violin, not having…well, everything that everyone else seems to have.

Believe me, while you’re eaten up with envy, the people you’re envious of are going green thinking about someone else. (And it’s quite possibly you: whose to say you don’t have something they secretly crave?)

Reflect rather than regret. If you’re unhappy with parts of your life, make some practical lists of steps you can take to change things.

Life can change in a heartbeat. If you’re in a bad place, it will pass. If you’re in a good place, appreciate what you have.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Visit traceycox.com to find out more about Tracey, her books and products

 

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