Family

Body language expert: How to avoid family fall-outs on Christmas Day so that everyone has a good time

There's so much expectation to have a great time at family gatherings on Christmas Day. People invariably crumble and drink or say too much. Here's how to avoid that this year.

By Karyn Henger and Lana Byrne
There's nothing like Christmas Day with the family to bring out the worst in us.
We've just spent the entire month of December meeting crazy deadlines at work, braving heaving malls to shop for gifts and attending multiple end-of-year functions (in the case of parents, we've had to 'bring a plate' to every one). We might also have been involved in family negotiations over who's hosting Christmas this year and what the Christmas Day menu will look like. So we're already feeling wrung out and exhausted, and possibly a little put out if negotiations didn't go our way.
Then there's so much expectation placed around everybody having a great time on Christmas Day. People invariably crumble under the pressure and either drink too much or say too much - often both.
Body language expert Suzanne Masefield suggests in the video above that instead of bracing yourself for a terrible time this Christmas, turn things around by thinking in advance about how you'd like to behave and taking charge of your emotions.
"Rather than Christmas being about dealing with difficult people make it about managing yourself," she says.
Identify your triggers, she suggests - for example, the things relatives say every year that grate you - then identify where you feel that in your body and "press pause".
"We often go into fight or flight mode when triggered," she explains.
We can also revert to childhood behaviours when we're around certain relatives, especially if we've always found those relatives to be dominant.
"Think about how your 40-year-old self would handle this, as opposed to your 15-year-old self," Masefield suggests.
If there's an elephant in the room pick your time and place to address it, she suggests. That could mean taking somebody aside for a stroll, and it always means keeping your cool.
Monitor your drinking, she suggests. And remember to smile and keep your body language open.
"This will lower your cortisol levels and increase your testosterone levels, which is your confidence hormone."
Follow these simple rules and this could be your best Christmas yet.