Simple steps to keep the peace over the holidays
Don't overdo things. Keep expectations of yourself and others realistic.
Don't try to do everything perfectly. Cheerful chaos is better than angry perfection.
Don't expect disaster either. Christmas time, like any other holiday time has its share of ups and downs. Enjoy the ups and try to ignore the downs.
Be aware of the things that cause you or the family stress and try to avoid them.
Keep your sense of humour.
Plan ahead, with clear realistic lists and prioritise tasks.
Make a budget and stick to it.
It is important to eat regularly, rest when tired and sleep nightly.
Space late nights in the run up to Christmas day to give recovery time between them.
Make sure to keep healthy practices in place. Get out for fresh air and walks.
Consider housework as a workout and make it fun.
Ask for help rather than seethe in anger.
Take 10 minutes at least once a day to chill out, enjoy silence, or meditation, mindfulness or whatever relaxation slows you down.
Don't take things personally. People are often just fussed and stressed at Christmas and don't mean what they say and do - or don't do.
Don't say anything in anger. Always wait until you have time to think.
Remove anything you don't want broken so that everyone can relax.
Don't get noisy toys for children that will drive everyone crazy. It's not fair to them either.
Healthy mini meals stop children reaching sugar highs.
Have a big cauldron of soup and chunks of bread available to stop people becoming irritable with hunger. This is especially useful on Christmas day when family are waiting for dinner.
Christmas dinner is more communal if everyone contributes something such as starters or main course, cheeseboard or dessert.
Don't catastrophise. Keep perspective, this is just a few days.
Remind yourself how lonely life would be without your family no matter how different or odd, wonderful or embarrassing, fun or dull or annoying they may be.
If you are feeling upset, distressed, lonely or depressed do go to your GP and contact one of the many organisations that are there to support you.
In all family crises seek professional help.
Dr Marie Murray is a consultant clinical psychologist @drmariemurray