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4 doable things to give yourself the best chance of surviving Christmas

4 doable things to give yourself the best chance of surviving Christmas

4 doable things to give yourself the best chance of surviving Christmas
Right, so, "The Dinner". How do you really feel about it?
A lot of us are super excited and genuinely looking forward to not just the meal, but the craic, the company. For families all over the country it's a glowy mushy affair with reunions and stories and catching up. It's lovely. Really lovely.

And for some of us, that part of Christmas is the most dreaded part. When hell is other people - people to whom you're related - then sitting with them, sharing food, engaging with these people on even superficial level can be, at best, trying. These people might push our buttons - which is manageable I suppose. And of course we are each capable of pushing back. At worst though, these people might be, or become abusive.

I know you are very, very busy right now being super-parent an' all, so I'll keep this one short I promise. 

Here are 4 doable things to give yourself the best chance of surviving The Dinner: (none of what follows has anything to do with cooking. Those of you who know me will now be breathing a sigh of relief - I can practically hear you!!)

Mind your Mouth - and I don't mean what you put in it. I mean what you let out of it. If you have issues with family members, (most of us do) now might feel like the best time to air them. But ask yourself - "how will what I'm bursting to say, benefit me if I say it now?" And "what is the purpose of saying it?"
If it's simply to vent, or shame, "teach" or punish someone, it will probably backfire, mostly on you.

Mind your Ears - Remind yourself that while you are being triggered, so are other people. Emotions are high at Christmas, always. Someone might say something to you that you don't like, or that is plain abusive.
But how you respond is your choice. You might imagine yourself reaching over, slapping that face.... But this is real life. So choose your response with your safety and wellbeing in mind. Again, as yourself - What is the purpose of responding? What's my goal? Is this the best way to achieve that goal? Possibly (probably?) not.
Remember that if you are asked a question that feels invasive, you needn't answer it. Just because someone throws you a ball doesn't mean you have to catch it!
 
Have an Escape Hatch - know that it's OK to leave. It may not be tradition. It may not be how your family normally deals with a particularly difficult family member. But it really is OK. Give yourself the permission and the means to leave.  By 'means' I mean: ensure you can leave by not drinking if you need to drive, and by having somewhere else to go, even just for a few hours. If you have a partner with you plan a gesture or code word which means "Help me please I need to get out of here or my head will explode!!".
Even if it's just for a walk.

Watch the booze. We all make poorer decisions when we drink - fact. There is no escaping this. You're a person with a brain and a liver so this holds true for you as it does for me. And during a day like Christmas, a big long emotional, tiring day, there is more potential for drinking and losing track of that drink.  Beware the "ah sure it's Christmas g'wan so...". Before you know it your ability to do 1, 2 & 3 above will be severely compromised, and you're feeling a lot more irritated, defensive or dangerously brave than usual.
So do take care of yourselves this Christmas and I sincerely hope that you won't need any of these tips! I wish you a nurturing, fun and happy Christmas and hope that you will surround yourself with people who truly deserve you!

Ho Ho HO!!
 
Very serious PS: We are all aware of domestic violence these days. Statistically, in Ireland, every one reading this either has been, is, or knows someone who is in an abusive relationship. We also know that Christmas is a particularly dangerous time for vulnerable people. So please be aware, if this is you or a friend, that there is help. You will be heard and believed. 
 
Written by
Sally O’Reilly is the Family Psychology Expert at Family Friendly HQ. She's a Psychologist, Psychotherapist & Clinical Supervisor in private practice in East Cork with twenty years’ full time experience. She has a special interest in working with teenagers. For more info contact her through her site sallyoreilly.com or on Twitter @psychosal or Facebook at Sally O'Reilly Psychology & Psychotherapy.

Contact:
Womens Aid 1800341900 
AMEN (for men)  0818 222240
NO-ONE deserves abuse.