7 Tips – To reduce your Christmas holiday Relationship stress

Why is it that a holiday that is supposed to celebrate peace and goodwill to all often ends in tears and frustration? Instead of looking forward to spending time with nearest and dearest, we stress, worry and argue about:

  • Buying the perfect present.
  • Cooking the perfect meal.
  • Who to spend the day with.
  • The expense of travelling, buying gifts, specialty food, time off work if self-employed.
  • Expectations of creating a perfect atmosphere of fun and everlasting memories.
  • The elephant in the room contained all year, but now fueled by, tiredness, sugar and alcohol going on a rampage.

It doesn’t seem to matter what the occasion is if there is food, alcohol, family and presents involved the chances of tears before bedtime is fairly high.

If you are worried about ‘surviving’ Christmas because of the issues mentioned above, there are things you can do that don’t involve faking a cough so you can stay home and self-isolate til it is over. Whether you are in a relationship or not, the following tips will help to make the festive season easier to bear. You might even quite enjoy it.     

Don’t overthink.

This year has been challenging, a global pandemic is a lot for the brain to deal with, so give it a break and keep things simple this year. Keep your list of things to do to a minimum. Know that it is ok to skip a tradition or two this year if the preparation creates more stress than the tradition provides in satisfaction. 


Instead of declaring it is my way or the highway, look to see where compromises can be made. Don’t want to travel to see family? Book in a time to make a phone or video call instead. The goal is to find a way for everyone to find joy in the day. Celebrating your birthday is the right time for self-indulgence.  

Ditch the FOMO (fear of missing out)

Forget about what everyone else is doing and focus on making the most of your situation. No one has a perfect life because there is no agreement on what makes a perfect life. For some, it is about having a large family for others, it is solitude; for some, it is about being surrounded by lots of things, for others, it is simplicity. 


Communication is one of the cornerstones of every relationship, romantic and familial but can easily be forgotten in the mad rush to the end of the year. Many a Christmas has ended in disaster because communication was relegated to telepathic thoughts and monosyllabic conversations. Couples should schedule in time to talk so that niggles can be dealt with before the big day. If single, know that you don’t have to be alone if you don’t want to. If you are not able to spend the day with family or friends, several volunteer organisations could do with your help over Christmas.

Manage conflict through self-control

If you do find yourself disagreeing with someone this Christmas, you can stop it from ruining the entire day by following some simples rules of engagement:

  • You don’t have to be right; sometimes it is better to agree to disagree than it is to win
  • Keep the debate focused on the issue at hand. Now is not the time to rehash old arguments.
  • It is about feelings, not accusations. Use statements that begin with “ I feel” rather than “You are an idiot”.
  • Keep your voice even and calm. An argument is rarely won by who can yell the loudest.
  • Take time out. If you do feel like someone is getting on your nerves, remove yourself from the situation. Go for a walk, read a book, do the dishes, anything that allows your brain to focus on something else for a while.
  • Think before you speak – is what I am about to say going to make things worse or better? Always go for the better option.

Manage the excess

Whilst it is ever so tempting to overindulge in food and alcohol during the festive break, for many an age-old tradition not to be tampered with, it does create stress on your organs to deal with the excess calories all at once. Combine that stress with those imposed on the brain at this time of year, and it is easy to see why you might begin to feel overwrought, tired and short-tempered in the company of others. So do yourself a favour and ration treats to a few at a time instead of all at once. Make time to go for a walk/exercise to help keep your digestive system flowing too.  

Go easy on yourself and others

2020 hasn’t been easy on anyone, so the number one tip for surviving Christmas and the holidays from me is to go easy on yourself and others. You have done your best under trying circumstances and are still here to tell the tale. That alone is worth celebrating/ remembering this festive season.

I wish you and your whānau a safe and happy summer.  I am going to be taking a break till the 18 January 2021. 

Appointments can be made through my website whilst I am away.

 Ngā mihi o te tau hou



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Ann Jay

Ann Jay is a Wellington Relationship Counselor who provides marriage counselling, couple's counselling, and relationship coaching for couples and women either in a relationship or single. Her goal is to help people create healthy, loving and fulfilling relationships and experience the love they deserve.