Keep your cool this Christmas – top tips to combat stress and anger during the festive period


  • More than half of all Brits have family disagreements at Christmas.
  • A quarter of all adults say their relationships with their partners come under pressure over the period, and an eighth say a festive argument made them want to split up.
  • Calls to Relate go up – up 59% over Christmas.
  • The average family has their first argument at 9.58am on Christmas Day morning.

Most likely reasons for increased anger are…

  • Who’s doing the washing up
  • Spending more time with family than usual
  • Too much alcohol
  • Battles over the TV remote control
  • Almost a third of people chose to go for a walk to avoid rows.

Pre-Christmas Preparation

  • Don’t give yourself a hard time about making Christmas perfect – it’s not all your responsibility and it is just one day in the year.
  • Think about what sets you off and figure out in advance how you are going to deal with it.
  • Plan ahead and think of the big picture (whatever the other person / thing does, it will all be over within a day (few days) and getting angry may not be worth the long term effect.
  • Think about the person who might make you angry: now write a list of their good points and think about the things you appreciate about that person (there is some good in all of us).Try to focus on those good things.
  • Plan to share the responsibility for the day. Share out chores with the children and the other adults. Get some firm agreements on what each person will do, so the success of the day isn’t on your shoulders entirely.
  • Do as much as you can in advance.
  • Agree beforehand with other family members some rules and arrangements that will help things go smoothly.

On the Festive Day(s)

  • Don’t drink too much – alcohol is responsible for lots of arguments, and it is more difficult to keep a perspective when under the influence of drink. Drinking lowers your defenses and changes your mood.
  • Try not to tackle controversial matters over the phone, email or texts. Body language and facial expressions are vital to appreciating the other person’s point of view.
  • Learn to break recurring conversations that always lead to an old argument. Take action and change the subject as smoothly as you can.
  • Take deep breaths and count to 10 if you are getting frustrated. Think about the consequences and step back.
  • If you feel yourself getting angry, take yourself out of the situation. If you can walk away and find a quiet place, or go for a walk, it will give you important time to calm and think about the bigger picture. Tell people you’re going for a walk because you have eaten a lot, not because you need to escape.
  • Remember if you shout, it’s likely your children will shout back at you.
  • You only have to ……eat sprouts/ speak to your uncle / say thanks for an unwanted present / (add your own option here), just for the day to make the festivities flow smoothly.
  • Accept the inevitable (e.g. there will be a mess /your mother-in-law will say something you don’t like / etc, and try not to argue over smaller things.
  • Look for the positives – seeing family / friends, the memories the children will have of happy Christmases, and the meal itself, which research says is the most enjoyable part of Christmas for many people.

For Young People:

  • Try to get enough rest before Christmas day. Tiredness makes everyone grumpy.
  • If you get over-excited or if someone’s annoying you, walk away and find a quiet place to calm down.
  • If your siblings are annoying you, tell a grown-up who isn’t too busy.
  • You may find listening to your favourite music, or repeating a calm word to yourself while breathing deeply, will help you avoid the angry outburst.

Rules to Beating Anger

  1. It’s OK to have a different opinion.
  2. Listen actively.
  3. Use your emotional support network. (Anger Buddies)
  4. Keep an anger management journal.
  5. Don’t take things personally.
  6. Managing Anger is a Primary Key to Controlling Stress, Anxiety & Depression.

Since 1998 the British Association of Anger Management has helped thousands of people
learn about anger and find healthy ways to express themselves saving their relationships, careers, health and families.

If you’d like more information visit or call 0345 1300 286 or email: