Imagine Health

Family Conflict over the Christmas Holidays

With the festive period fast approaching, many people will be getting ready for all the celebrations and spending time with people you don’t get to see often. For some, spending time with family brings happiness and serenity, however for others, not so much. Sadly, you might need to start practising your conflict resolution skills this christmas.

The holiday season can increase anxiety which can lead to disagreements among family members. This could be because of old disagreements not being settled properly or that you simply do not get along with a family member. Well we can’t change what has happened already and we can’t change our family, so what can be done?

Learning simple coping strategies and ways to lessen the pressure will and can help you over the coming festive period. Whether at a Christmas party or a quiet dinner with family try some of the following tips:

Separate yourself from the problem

In other words, focus your attention on the people who you are happy to talk to and be around. Another idea would be to take charge of the seating arrangements by making place cards so you can separate certain people from one another. Or if you feel that even seeing this person would ruin your holidays then decline the invitation if you can and host your own Christmas party or dinner. Your family will understand why you do not want to go, if you calmly explain.

Stay out of the danger zone

If there is a topic that has always created tension and conflict in the past, make it off limits over the Christmas period. This will ease the pressure and stress off everyone. A fun way to do this is assigning the job to a child so they can police the conversations. You can create your own rules around the job.


If you think or feel that things might get heated, monitor what you’re drinking and how much you’re drinking for the night. Having a clear head will help you be better equipped in case you are involved in any drama.

Sort the conflict

If you do have unresolved issues with someone, try not to bring it up during this time. Find a more appropriate, quiet time, preferably before the event, to properly sort the conflict out using Giraffe language. This decreases the chance that a previous problem or disagreement will surface on the day.


Exercising or practising some relaxation techniques before an event can be very beneficial in clearing the mind and releasing some endorphins.

Nothing works

If all else fails, and things still become stressful, then take a breather. Taking slow breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth will help you keep calm and ease the anxiety. If needs be, excuse yourself from the situation and get some fresh air.


Christmas is a time for enjoying yourself with people that you care about and love. Try not to let family issues ruin your holidays. If you feel you have tried everything to resolve the problem and conflict still arises, then do not blame yourself, be happy that you tried.


Written by Alannagh Kelly