7 Expert tips to survive Christmas with your family

Christmas is a merry time of year! Well, not for everyone… If you suffer from depression you might find that Christmas might make you feel even lower due to the general pressure that you should be happy at Christmas and you should be celebrating. On top of that you are likely to see  some members of your family that you wouldn’t want to spend time with usually, like this auntie who is going to ask you when you are going to get married and have children “because you know…you are not getting any younger!”

Or they might just point out this one thing in your life that isn’t quite how you would like it to be and makes you feel worse anyway.

So here are my tips to not let any of that get to you and allow you to actually enjoy Christmas this year!

Tip #1: Prepare yourself

Pump up your mood

Get yourself in the most positive mood that you can before the big reunion. You can do that a number of ways such as:

  • Do an activity that you love just before meeting up with your family, anything that makes you feel good: sport, reading, watch your favourite movies, go shopping, meditate…Whatever floats your boat
  • Enjoy a gratitude moment by taking 10/15 minutes to write down everything that is good in your life right now. Suddenly a few hours with annoying people won’t feel so bad. For more on the power of gratitude, check out my post The Gratitude Challenge (or the recipe for happiness) 

Think of things to talk about

Just spend a few minutes running through:

  • Anything exciting that you have done recently and that you could talk about for hours  
  • Anything exciting that you are going to do in the coming weeks or months
  • Any interesting book or movie that you have read or seen recently

That sort of things.

You got it, the idea is to put at the forefront of your mind positive things that make you feel good. That way if you need to quickly change the subject (see tip #6 below) you will have things to talk about!

Tip #2: Take charge of the conversation    

So that it doesn’t revolve around you.

People love to talk about themselves. All you have to do is to be the first person asking how they are doing and what is new with them. If the conversation dries out too quickly, move on to their family. Each family member one by one if you have to. And don’t forget to ask about their latest holidays and the next one planned.   

Not only you will get the benefit of not having to talk about yourself but they will like you more for it. Yes people are that shallow. It is a fact.

This is not something I just made up by the way. A few years back when I was in private practice I was out every other night networking to bring new clients to the firm I was working for. All I had to do was go around the room, introduce myself very briefly and ask them to tell me about themselves. I never said much but I was very much liked and brought up quite a few clients this way. 

If you are enjoying this article, you might enjoy this one too:  The power of accountability

Tip#3: Listen to what they say and ask questions

Don’t just stand there thinking about topic you could bring up next. The answer is in what the other person is saying to you right now.

So listen actively to what they are saying and take an interest. Imagine that whatever your interlocutor is talking about is your favourite topic in the whole world and ask follow-up questions or ask their opinion on something specific related to what they were talking about.

Tip #4: Don’t get stuck talking to the same person for too long     

It goes without saying you might be very good at getting others to talk about themselves but if you talk to that person for 2 hours there might be a point where the conversation comes back to you.

To avoid that you should make sure that you don’t speak to the same person for too long. Just keep an eye open for someone looking lonely that you could invite your interlocutor to speak to while you go check if the host needs any help.

Or just bring the conversation to an end by saying that you had offered to help the host and really as much as you’d love to stay and chat you should check on the host. That will make you look good too. 

Tip#5: Help out

And so you should go and help the host! If you are helping out it will keep you busy and give you a good reason to only have very brief conversations with people.  

The host will most likely appreciate the help and the other guests the fact that they won’t have to help too much since you are doing all of the hard work.     

And it will distract your mind from any negative thoughts you may have as you will (hopefully) be focusing on what you are doing.


Tip#6: The art of changing the subject

Now this is slightly more advanced but a very useful skill. Being a lawyer a lot of what I do is confidential and I am not allowed to speak about work to anyone outside of work (or sometimes even outside of my team).

So I have had to practice this skill over and over again. This was quite a difficult skill for me to practice too as I am naturally quite chatty.

So how do you do it? You need to get ready before the dreaded event. Think about a number of topics that you feel comfortable talking about and that will not bring anything up that you don’t want to discuss.  

Then when you are asked any question that you do not want to answer just say “oh that remind me, I meant to tell you about…” By the time you finish talking, they will have forgotten their question. Works every time. 

Tip#7: Don’t drink too much

Obviously if you are feeling low you should avoid drinking alcohol as much as possible as it will amplify your low feelings. But if you get drunk you might end up letting it all out!

No need to say this is not what you want for Christmas. So if you want to keep it together, keep an eye on how much you are drinking.     


Let me know how you get on!

Share the article

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: