De-fusing arguments over the festive season

Nov 28, 2019 | Blog Articles

For many, the Christmas season brings a mix of close and not-so-close relatives and friends together, highlighting existing family tensions.

We might shop for weeks beforehand, cook for days ahead of ‘the day’, often in the extreme heat that summer brings and with the added anxiety of fires. If it’s your turn to host Christmas, the pressure is already on. We strive to ensure everything is perfect and everyone around the table is happy.

We may have already set up an impossible situation! If we add alcohol into the mix then we’re almost guaranteed to inflame the proceedings, not just the Christmas pudding.


Grief, loneliness, abandonment, confusion or upset that the empty chair at the table should have been filled with someone we have loved and lost, or is estranged from the family.

Fuelled with alcohol and expectations, this time of the year can create the perfect storm for family tension and feuds. It’s easy to understand why a seemingly trivial argument can spiral into a mammoth confrontation.

So, how can you help smooth the way over the Christmas season?

We’ve all been told at some stage in our lives that arguing can be a pathway to growth and problem-solving. Understanding and knowing what helps to resolve a problem are key.

Anger is often just the bodyguard for sadness

And at this time of year, the tools and skills we’ve used to deal with our sadness just don’t seem to work.

Anger is not a ‘bad’ emotion and if it’s healthily expressed anger discharges disharmony from within ourselves. However, an unhealthy or inappropriate expression of anger is when we use it as a means to wound other people – or ourselves.

12 tips to resolving arguments:

1. Be prepared! Decide ahead of time what issues might be contentious this year and consider whether they require your attention ahead of any get together.

2. Create a positive mood – Be ‘that person’ who creates a happy mood and others will follow suit. Smiling is infectious! Be the person who cheers someone else up.

3. Get enough sleep – Almost everything looks better after a good night’s sleep.

4. Listen to your body – When you’re angry, your body releases cortisol which may cause you to react in ways that can be destructive to you or your relationship. Try to understand your feelings and how the process of anger affects you physically and emotionally.

5. Use ‘I notice, I imagine, I feel… If someone tries to goad you into an argument, simply don’t go there. Avoid being sucked into their need for attention or a resolution of an issue. Politely postpone the resolution of an issue to a later day – and ensue you make a time to do so.

6. Meditate – A morning meditation will help you start each day from a place of calm. You’ll find that you will accomplish what’s on your ‘to do’ lists far better.

7. Keep your sense of humour intact – Find any excuse to smile, chuckle or laugh. This reminds us that we will enjoy this time of year and that the hubbub will pass.

8. Keep your spontaneity intact – create calmness within yourself by the constant practice of Coming To Your Senses and you’ll be able to draw on your spontaneity throughout this build up to Christmas.

9. Don’t raise your voice – It’s hard to remember this when someone is upset or hurling abuse at us. It’s hard to let the arrows fly past and not let them find their mark. When the arrow hits, we want to react and send an arrow right back. Let the arrows fly past then bring yourself into the present so you can respond appropriately instead.

Remember the principle of Attitudinal Healing – I can always perceive anger in myself or other people, as a call for help, rather than as an attack. You may be dealing with someone who is reacting from a past wound.

You can choose to respond by suggesting you make a time to meet – perhaps with a third person present – to resolve the conflict in a more appropriate and effective way.

10. Resolve issues in advance. If you’re aware of a likely flare-up, it might be useful to resolve the issue before the family get together. If this isn’t an option, then redouble your efforts to remain calm and focused when in this person’s presence.

11. Ensure children are well-occupied with responsibilities, activities and play.

12. Remind yourself that this time of year comes but once.

On behalf of the Team at Quest, we wish you a peace-filled festive season and we look forward to reconnecting with you in 2020.


We provide a safe, nurturing and compassionate space to think about your needs and hear others’ experiences. Learn how to relax deeply, sleep better, reduce stress, create an environment for healing and feel empowered to make informed choices in your healing journey.

Healing Your Life can help you find hope, healing and peace of mind.

If a young person in your life is living with depression, anxiety, grief or loss, Your Life Matters – for young people provides tools and strategies to re-establish health and wellbeing.

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