The family and Christmas

The Christmas period can be seriously stressful so make sure to give yourself some space. If you’re spending Christmas away from home or if you’re sharing your time between different houses, there are things you can do to make it easier. There’s always someone you can talk to.

This might help if:

  • You're worried about Christmas
  • You aren't spending Christmas with family
  • Your parents have recently split up
Boy at table with parents fighting

Why people get stressed at Christmas

Christmas and the holidays can be a seriously busy time. Some of the common reasons people get stressed include:

  • People are working longer hours at work to get things finished before starting the holidays.
  • Christmas adds financial stress.
  • It’s difficult to find time to get all the Christmas shopping done in time.
  • Going to various family, work or social events and functions.

Everyone reacts differently to these things and sometimes people get cranky because they’re stressed and tired. Christmas can be a time when families argue more than they usually do, over what may seem like petty things (this might be particularly the case with extended family who you only see once or twice a year).

Getting some space

Even though Christmas is usually a time jam-packed with family visits and activities, it’s worthwhile making sure you have time just to relax and have your own space. Taking time out might be all that you need to avoid some of the common family conflicts that occur over Christmas. Some things you can do to get time out include:

  • Go for a walk
  • Ring a friend
  • Find a quiet space to relax
  • Put your headphones in and close your eyes

If you’re finding that things are getting on top of you, it might be helpful to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. This might mean talking to the person or people involved to see if you can work something out together. Sometimes, people aren’t aware that they’re making you sad or angry. If you’re going to talk to them, it’s a good idea to do it when you are both feeling calm. Check out some tips for communicating for some good ways of approaching difficult conversations.

Spending Christmas away from the family

Spending Christmas away from home can sometimes be lonely. If you’re planning on spending Christmas overseas or with people other than your family, it can be helpful to plan your day out with fun activities so you don’t feel lonely or sad.

If you have friends who are also away from family for Christmas you might want to organise to spend the day with them. Plan a special Christmas menu with all your favourite food and line up some Christmas films to watch over the course of the day.

Another idea is to volunteer to help with a Christmas lunch. Church groups or organisations like the Salvation Army or Smith Family often put on a Christmas lunch and are usually looking for volunteers. Look online for details of charity Christmas lunches going on nearby.

Dealing with a split family

If your family is split it might be that you have to separate your time between your mum and dad's place. Sometimes it means going away and being away from friends over the holidays. It might also be a time when your mum and dad seem to be fighting, which can be pretty hard to cope with.

Some ideas for helping to get through this time:

Work out a Christmas plan - It might help to talk with your parents about how you’re going to split your time at Christmas. If your parents live close by, you might want to do lunch at one place and dinner at the other (swapping each year). If you live a little further away then you can swap who you spend Christmas with each year.

Take time out - Spending time with someone you see very little of can be tough. It is also hard to stay in a place you may call 'home', but is not complete with all your stuff. Taking time out might help you to have more fun. You might want to chill out listening to some music, go for a walk or talk to a friend.

Need someone to talk to? 

If you’re finding it hard to cope, you might like to talk with someone who’s not so close to the situation. Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline 13 11 14 have counsellors who are available 24 hours a day so feel free to call them if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 07 July, 2015
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