It might be the most-wonderful time of the year, but Christmas is also when tempers are most likely to fray as simmering family disputes come to the boil. If you dread the festive season as much as you look forward to it, check out our top tips for taking the stress out of your Christmas...
See also: How to ensure your Christmas is kept simple
Get out of the house
Being cooped up with your loved ones for days can lead to tensions, so make a point of getting out in the fresh air. Whether it's volunteering to get the newspaper, going for a family walk to burn off those extra calories or working up a sweat with a run or bike ride – the exercise will clear your head and release feel-good endorphins into your brain.
Of course, the festive period also sees the start of the year's biggest sales, and a shopping trip can be a good excuse to get out and about. However, if shopping raises your blood pressure at the best of times then you might be better off politely declining and going for a walk in the woods instead.
Keep a lid on the booze
It's easy to "get in the Christmas spirit" a bit too frequently over the festive season, what with all that booze sitting around and the fact that you've already seen this James Bond at least three times before.
However drinking every night (and day) will soon make you feel tired, run down and stressed out, so try to schedule in a few "dry" days – perhaps volunteering to do the driving if you need an excuse. Spend some time before Christmas sampling different soft drinks to find your favourites, whether that's non-alcoholic beer, mocktails or good old fashioned soda and lime.
Learn to put your feet up
For many of us Christmas means catering for the family and we love keeping busy and orchestrating the whole complex process of Christmas dinner. So if you've been used to putting on a spread yourself and are now visiting your offspring for Christmas, it can take a bit of adjustment. However it's important not to become a back-seat cook, telling your son or daughter-in-law that they're doing the sprouts all wrong and that there's no way they've got enough stuffing.
Instead make a conscious effort to be a gracious guest, allow yourself to be waited on and enjoy putting your feet up and having a well-earned rest. You never know, you might even learn some new tricks.
Join in the fun
Some of us struggle to let our hair down and get into the Christmas spirit, which in turn can cause those around us to become stressed. Make an effort to join in the fun. Wear the hat from your cracker, read out the joke, dig out the board games and join in with the grandkids as they play with their new toys. Laughter is a great stress-buster and you might just end up having your best Christmas for years.
Let's be honest, Christmas is a time of over-indulgence for most of us – but while it would be easy to exist solely on a diet of mince pies, pigs-in-blankets and Quality Street for a fortnight, it's important to try to keep some semblance of a balanced diet.
Too much rubbish food will leave your blood sugar yo-yoing and could lead to mood swings and that familiar festive lethargy that often sets in by Boxing Day. There's no need to deny yourself those Christmas treats, but make sure you schedule in healthy meals with normal portion sizes as well.