Dealing with frayed tempers at Christmas

There is no other time of the year that is quite the same as Christmas. The festive season demands so much from you. Not only must you rush around for the whole of December buying presents, food, booze and stocking fillers, but you must also attend parties, visit long lost relatives and deliver home-made Christmas cards to all and sundry. The day itself is not without it’s issues either. Christmas day is traditionally the day where the majority of families congregate under one roof in the name of ‘being together as a family’. For some, this is a truly joyous occasion- the one day of the year where you can enjoy the company of everyone whom you hold dearly. For others though, this can mean frayed tempers, anxious emotions running high and stressed out relatives who can’t wait to get home for Boxing Day.

This year, the news has reported that Domestic Abuse charities are going to feel the pinch when it comes to helping out families for whom the pressures and intensity of Christmas has become too much. Christmas day is always a difficult time for some families, for  a number of reasons: being squashed together for an entire day with no escape- no shops to pop out to, no friends to visit (they’re all enjoying a nice family day together) and no chores to immerse yourself in (nobody needs to weed the garden on Christmas day). Coupled with this is the fact that many adults like to enjoy an alcoholic drink or two over Christmas, and this can play a huge part in how and why tempers begin to fray.

So what can you do? If you think that you might be in danger of being on the receiving end of a frayed temper, or that the temper in question belongs to you, there are other options. Firstly, please do not suffer in silence. This post is not intended to be the ultimate guide in keeping calm over Christmas- this is merely to highlight the warning signals and point you in the direction of help.

  • If you are genuinely concerned for your safety, or for the safety of another, please call womens aid.
  • Although according to Women’s Aid “At least 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence in their lifetime and between 1 in 8 and 1 in 10 women experience it annually “, many families will thankfully not experience domestic abuse over Christmas. It can, however, still be a stressful time and so here are a few tips to dealing with any anxious situations that may arise:
  • Remove triggers. If you know that you or a family member becomes stressed in certain situations, try to avoid these circumstances if you can. If you don’t get on with the in-laws, don’t plan to spend the whole day with them.
  • Create some space. If you can’t avoid spending lots of time with relatives that make you feel stressed, make sure you give yourself some space- go for a walk or take a long bath. Explain that you just want a little time to yourself, if you can. Alternatively, arrange to deliver Christmas cards for an hour and make sure that you make your plans clear before the big day.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol. Sadly, alcohol can be at the root of many an argument so it’s a good idea to avoid it if you know that to be the case. Choose low alcohol versions instead, or drink water in between your tipple.
  • Prepare to back down. Yes, it may be hard, but it might be the only sensible thing to do. If someone is determined to make you lose your temper, or if you can see that someone is close to breaking point, don’t make it worse. Leave the situation if you can, or try to diffuse it in other ways.
  • Talk about it before-hand. If there are people you are planning to see that you know may cause friction over Christmas, talk to someone, if you can’t talk to them. Explain how certain situations or people make you feel and make plans to avoid those feelings if possible.
  • Make alternative arrangements. At the end of the day, Christmas is supposed to be a happy time and a day filled with friends and family. If history teaches you that this isn’t the case, change your plans. Spend the day with different people and arrange shorter visits to those who have made Christmas difficult.
  • Keep busy. If it’s close family members who tend to lose their temper- or cause you to lose yours- stay busy. Visit friends, arrange to go out for a walk or plan activities that you all enjoy. Don’t allow bad feelings to fester with boredom.

If you need to talk to someone about temper issues, there are plenty of support services out there. Call on friends and seek advice if you need it. Nobody needs to suffer alone and nobody should feel threatened due to the actions of another person. Remember that Christmas comes but once a year- if you have to bite your tongue for that one day, then perhaps that is the best solution. That said, remember that abusive or violent behaviour is never acceptable and you should always try to take steps towards leaving situations like that. Seek help if you feel that you or someone else is in danger.

Whatever you are doing this festive season, Babyhuddle would like to wish you a Merry Christmas- we hope that it is a peaceful, joyous and happy occasion.

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