Christmas carols. Gifts under the tree. Gingerbread men.
Christmas is meant to be the happiest time of the year. The time we enjoy hanging out with our perfect families, reminiscing about our idyllic childhoods, celebrating the successful year we’ve just had and making plans for a bigger and better one on the horizon.
But for a lot of people, Christmas is anything but a good time.
For those who aren't on good terms with family, Christmas day can be something that has you hiding under the doona. If this is you:
Run for the hills
Exercise in the lead-up to a stressful event is great for helping to lower stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Exercise also stimulates the production of endorphins, the chemicals in our brain which help elevate our mood. So jump up out of bed early, pull on your runners and head for the steepest hill you can find to really get your heart pumping.
Lower your expectations
If your idea of a successful Christmas day is one where every single thing plays out perfectly, you’re really setting yourself up for disappointment. Expect and accept a few hiccups along the way, and you’ll have a much better time.
Split them up
It’s not unusual for some reloes to clash. If you’re aware of any foes within your family, do everything in your power to separate them. This could mean placing dad up one end of the table and mum and your new stepdad at the opposite end.
Or why not even have separate celebrations all together? Christmas lunch with one set of family and a Boxing Day barbecue with the other.
Put. The drink. Down.
No alcohol? But it's the festive season!
We're not suggesting that you don't drink at all, just don't go overboard. Alcohol is notorious for heightening our emotions. And with emotions already running high, why give them an added boost?
Cousin Sharon's standoffishness doesn't necessarily mean she can't stand you. Her lack of chattiness could be due to the fact that she worked until midnight on Christmas eve and has to be back at work early the following morning for the Boxing Day sales, like she's had to do the past three years in a row.
And Uncle Steve could be even grumpier than usual because he's just realised how far over-budget he went on Christmas gifts for Taylor and Logan. He also completely forgot to get Aunty Cheryl that Amazon Alexa she's been banging on about since February and now she's not talking to him.
So try to give them a little slack and ask them how they're doing. They might really appreciate the opportunity to talk.
Rather than sitting around drinking after lunch is finished, plan some games. Whether it's something to help work off the Christmas pudding like a game of backyard cricket, or something that will challenge the brain cells, like dusting off the old chess set, it's a way to keep everybody busy and their minds off the dark place that Christmas can be.