How to get through Christmas without losing your temper (or your mind)

Two weeks before Christmas, I had a hair appointment. As I sat before the wall of mirrors, eavesdropping on other people’s tales of festive stress, I was treated to some sage wisdom. “What you want to do,” my stylist said, as he pasted dye onto a section of hair, foil crackling with each brush stroke, “is at some point you’ve got to take yourself out for like a 40-minute walk. By yourself.”

I hadn’t actually asked for this advice, but such is our collective understanding of “spending time with family at Christmas” that, no sooner had I outlined my plans for the holidays, than he began to recommend coping strategies. See, no matter how good you think you are at communicating, if you’re anything like me, you find yourself regressing when you’re around family. Old patterns of behaviour start popping up again.

In normal life, if our mates suggested a freezing walk when all you wanted to do was lie on the sofa and eat chocolates, most of us would have no problem saying no, thank you. Or, knowing it would mean a lot to our friends, we might go along and make the best of it, suggesting a pit stop for rum hot chocolate as a compromise.


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