Helping you to better navigate life's changes. #LoveChange

Five sure ways to stay happy and sane this festive season

Five sure ways to stay happy and sane this festive season

The end of the year is meant to be a time of good cheer and relaxation. But the pressures of the season can take their toll on your relationships and your sanity. Avoid that prospect by following this five-step plan from educational psychologist, Tshepiso Matentjie.

“The key lies in having a measure of personal mastery: understanding what pushes your buttons and knowing how you will manage your behaviour in response.”

The festive season can be fraught with family tension. For some reason, it brings out the worst in many people. It’s important to have a strategy for getting through this often-stressful time with your sanity and your relationships intact.

The key lies in having a measure of personal mastery: understanding what pushes your buttons and knowing how you will manage your behaviour in response. You can only manage your own behaviour, but by changing the way you respond to these situations, you can get a different outcome to the usual misunderstandings and bruised egos.

1. Put a proper plan in place

If you don’t have a plan, it opens the doors for people to take over and make plans that include you, but which don’t necessarily consider what you are able to do. As a result, you may end up with expenses or responsibilities you’re unable to cope with.

Know your limits. When your family expects you to pay for all the booze on Christmas Day, or look after everybody’s children during the holidays, you can explain that you don’t have the money, or that you will be at work. It’s important to learn to say no and knowing your limits will help you to do this.

2. Learn to communicate effectively

Don’t blame others or trample on their needs, but do learn to say what you are feeling. Know your boundaries. When you are aware of these things, you can communicate better.

Start sentences with “I feel …” Label the feeling, and own it. Don’t accuse others. Accusing causes alienation and fights. When you use “I” instead of “you”, people are less defensive, because they don’t feel you are attacking them.

Also ensure that you address issues as they come up. It’s always better to communicate upfront than allow things to accumulate and pile up until you explode.

3. Learn to handle negative people

Some people are just negative. They find fault with everything and are always putting you down. How you engage with people who are “energy thieves” makes a difference – it’s all about how you respond.

You can choose not to engage, or choose to do something that protects your heart. I always suggest killing people with kindness. No matter how negative they are, keep being positive, and remain humble. You don’t have to be like them. Compliment them, shower them with kindness and walk away.

Choose instead to spend your time with energy givers – people who fill you with cheer. Hang around with them, and that will offset any negative energy.

4. Give yourself time off

We all need time to recoup, time to rest, time to be alone. Don’t overdo things: that only leads to exhaustion. Pace yourself!

5. Think about the children

We tend to get caught up in parties and the social whirl, and not all activities are child-friendly. Plan accordingly. If the children are occupied, you can relax.

What works for younger children won’t necessarily work for teenagers, so ensure your kids are well-stimulated or they will be grumpy.

It may be worth getting someone to watch them at home where they are comfortable and occupied, instead of dragging them along to your social events.

This article was originally published on the Change Exchange in 2016.


Change expert, Community, believes that the big change equals big opportunity.

Related stories

The Change Programme

Are you thinking about making a change? Or trying to make a change? Or dealing with some change that’s happened? Whether you’re getting married or having a baby, moving house or jobs, starting a diet or stopping smoking… the Change Programme is for you.

Start the programme now!

black and white pattern