Article by Dr Lynne Green, Chief Clinical Officer at Kooth
Fairy lights adorn every high-street, trees are beginning to appear in the windows of homes across the country – earlier every year – and there’s a breathless anticipation of long-awaited reunions, and time to be spent, with family and friends. After all, it was only twelve months ago when the UK was thrown into chaos with last-minute government restrictions leading to the cancellation or reduction of the usual holiday season celebrations. Which is why it comes as no surprise that the festive cheer this year has become almost intoxicating – in the words of the Sainsbury’s Christmas Ad ‘it’s been a long time coming so let’s make it  a Christmas to Savour’.
However, for some this ‘picture perfect’ version of the holiday season does not match their own personal reality. As mid-December approaches, the pressures of how to escape potential clashes with loved ones if they happen to see the world in a different way can lay heavy on the mind. With differing opinions – and often a generational ‘thought- divide’ – on everything from politics and social issues to conflicting family traditions and unrealistic expectations on the level of spending on gifts.
It’s great to be able to share this special time with those closest to you again this year, but occasionally there can be tension or family members going head-to-head. And then there’s the added anxiety that there may be children present who won’t understand the finer details but could be unsettled by hearing people they love disagree.
If you are anticipating some form of tension this year with family and/or friends, it could prove invaluable – and help reduce your anxiety and/or stress running up to the celebrations – to spend some time putting a plan in place for how you could navigate potential flashpoints while protecting your own mental health and those around you. The six tips below could provide a platform for your plan:
And finally, it’s important to be aware that you are not the only one responsible for making this holiday season Instagram-ready! And, after all, when it comes down to it, this is a chance to see the people you care about (for all their flaws). As urgent and vital as the bigger picture is, it’s important not to lose sight of the personal relationships which are central to our happiness and wellbeing.
Dr Lynne Green is the Chief Clinical Officer at Kooth and a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with 20 years’ NHS experience. Previous roles include Clinical Lead for CAMHS (Lancashire Care Foundation Trust) and Lead Consultant Psychologist for children’s eating disorders and adolescent inpatient services. Prior to joining Kooth, she was Clinical Director at schools based charity Place2Be.