Updated 03 December 2014

Your Christmas season survival guide

Christmas is a time for relaxation and celebration. But having to spend time with your dreaded granny or siblings' children can make it quite stressful. Here are tips to cope.


Christmas is a time for relaxation and celebration. But having to spend time with your dreaded granny or spending your savings on your siblings' children can make it quite a stressful time. Here are tips to cope.

Watch your stress levels

Dr Colinda Linde, a clinical psychologist who specialises in stress management, recommends some practical solutions to reduce and prevent stress:

  • When we are stressed, we lose vital vitamins and minerals. Therefore these should be replenished by healthy eating and by taking a multi-vitamin.
  • Exercise! Excess energy created by stress, rather than being kept inside, should be channeled into our muscles.
  • Talking about emotions is an important way to destress. We should utilize our social support structures (family and friends) for emotional as well as practical support, companionship and advice.
  • What we think has a very real effect on how we feel, and when stressed we become irrational and negative. We can change our thoughts by looking at the actual facts of the situation, looking for real evidence of what we believe to be true and by looking at all the alternatives available.

Difficult relatives

If the problem is that you have relatives that you don't get on with, plan to spend only a short while with them. Perhaps plan a vacation for which you leave on Boxing Day. This also applies if you have relatives that tend to overstay their welcome - plan a holiday to get away from it all.


Don't spend more than you can afford. The spirit of Christmas is not found in expensive gifts and extravagant foods. The debts you incur are likely to cause an anxious beginning to the New Year. Rather leave some money over.


Remember that alcohol is essentially a depressant. Excessive amounts will not help you cope and could worsen the situation.

Treat yourself

Plan small treats for yourself and phone friends and family who make you feel good about yourself. Buy yourself that little something you've been wanting for ages.


Put your feet up and enjoy the festivities on the TV and radio. Value your own needs as much as those of the rest of the family and make time for yourself. This is also your holiday season and time for you to relax and unwind.

Accept support

Allow your family and friends to help you, but if that is not an option you have available, remember that there are people to talk to, who are willing to listen and to help. Contact a support group in your area if you need support. The Depression and Anxiety Group has a helpline and a number of groups all over the country. Contact them on (011) 783 1474/6.

Any questions? Ask Cybershrink.

- (Health24, updated December 2011)


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