Teenage boy looking sad sitting on the dock at a harbour.

TV, film and social media like to sell us a fairytale at Christmas but in reality, most homes and families are not picture-perfect.

They’re flawed and complicated and no two are exactly the same. But something that many families have is toxic people. Someone or several individuals who make life difficult by being overbearing, critical, dismissive or downright cruel.

Whether it’s intentional or not, it can be hard and unpleasant to deal with especially when all you want is to see everyone getting along and enjoying themselves.

Here are a few things you can do to create a warmer atmosphere at home this Christmas:


Try to clear the air before the holidays

If you and a sibling or parent have had a massive fight or argument, do your best not to let it ruin Christmas for the rest of the family.

Talk to them beforehand and do your best to clear the air or at least call a temporary ceasefire in order to enjoy the time at home with everyone!


Accept that people will have different opinions to yours

Different generations often have vastly different opinions on what can be quite triggering issues. Do your best to avoid topics like politics, LGBTQ issues, vaccines and climate change with someone you suspect will have the opposite view to your own.

The urge might be there to call them out but it’s better for everyone at home if you accept that not everyone will share your opinion.


See if you can understand where they’re coming from

The holidays can bring out the worst in people, particularly adults. Time pressure, money worries and relationship issues can all take their toll and as a result, they find Christmas quite stressful.

It’s not an excuse but it might help you be more understanding if you see a family member acting poorly this year.


Try not to be alone with the toxic person

There is safety in numbers and if you find yourself alone with the toxic person, you will have no choice but to engage with them which could lead to a row.

Instead, do your best to always be in a group. That way you have a buffer from their toxic behaviour and won’t get drawn into a conversation you’d rather not have.


Avoid alcohol

It might be tempting to sneak a few drinks here and there throughout the festive season but if there’s tension at home, it’s not a good idea.

First of all, it won’t help you relax, it will make you less in control which means you’re more likely to say something without thinking it through that you ultimately regret.


Know when to leave the room

Just because you live at home doesn’t mean you have to be part of a toxic atmosphere. If it all becomes too much for you, quietly get up and leave the room.

If you’re confronted, explain calmly why you’re leaving or, if you’re afraid they’ll be angry, simply say that you’re tired and want to go to your bedroom.

Take some me-time throughout the week as well to go for a walk or run, to meet up with a friend or just listen to a podcast.


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