In the words of Michael Bublé, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!” It may be the season of good cheer, but it can also be one of the more stressful times of the year as we juggle the needs of different family members. No matter what your religious persuasion, as the festive countdown begins, it’s time to set yourself up for success by boosting your emotional intelligence (EQ) – the ability to recognise and manage your own emotions and those of others – to help you survive the twelve days of Christmas with your sense of humour intact.

On the 1st day of Christmas, find out what really makes you tick

Self-knowledge is the cornerstone of EQ, so hold up a mirror and work out your strengths and areas for development. Do you love being in the thick of the festivities or do you prefer sitting on the side lines? Are you the peacemaker jollying people along or do you like to be in charge, directing the proceedings?

On the 2nd day of Christmas, put yourself in other people’s shoes

Empathy is often described as the emotional glue that holds relationships together because it enables you to understand other people’s points of view. This is particularly important at Christmas when family tensions can run high.  So, if your mother-in-law is being tricky, try asking her questions and listening with empathy to the answers so you can understand her real motivations!

On the 3rd day of Christmas, make a genuine connection

Whether it’s talking to neighbours at Christmas drinks or catching up with a long-lost aunt, aim to find common ground. Be interested and interesting and you will be well on your way to building a meaningful relationship.

On the 4th day of Christmas, be open and honest

You need to know when to push back appropriately rather than saying “yes” to everything that is asked of you. Be straightforward and honest – if you don’t feel up to a fourth game of Monopoly, don’t be afraid to say so!

On the 5th day of Christmas, manage your emotions

With so many festive plates to juggle, it can sometimes be difficult to appear cool calm and collected at all times.  However, whenever possible try to keep your feelings in check by drawing on your self-control so that you can respond rather than react to other people.

On the 6th day of Christmas, remember to back yourself

Don’t always default to others, whether it’s your partner, parent or child – have the courage of your convictions and stand your ground.  By drawing on your self-reliance in this way, you are far more likely to enjoy the holiday season.

On the 7th day of Christmas, focus on the positives

Emotionally intelligent people have a glass half full approach to life.  So, instead of worrying that the turkey was over-cooked, your father-in-law was asleep at the table and the kids were squabbling over the prize in the cracker, draw on your resilience and count your blessings.

On the 8th day of Christmas, be truly present in the moment

Switch off your phone, put on your reindeer ears and focus your attention on the here and now, instead of worrying about what’s happening at work or what’s next on your to-do list.

On the 9th day of Christmas, don’t be afraid to ask for help

Don’t be a martyr this Christmas and try to do everything yourself.  Emotionally intelligent people know when to ask for help – whether it’s peeling the spuds, filling up the wine glasses or doing the washing up

On the 10th day of Christmas, take change in your stride

Even the best laid plans can go awry, so draw on your adaptability. Although Christmas traditions have their place, try to embrace change and see the value in doing things differently.

On the 11th day of Christmas, boost your self-confidence

Give yourself a pat on the back for what you’ve managed to achieve this festive season. We are often are harshest critics – so remember that good is good enough.

On the 12th day of Christmas, be mindful

Once the celebrations are over and you are taking down your decorations, use mindfulness techniques to help you reconnect with your feelings and emotions. By taking practical steps to lower your stress levels and get your head in the right space, you will return to your desk fighting fit and ready to kickstart 2024.

Looking for a last-minute stocking filler? Order your copy of The Emotional Intelligence Book by Nicole Soames and discover how emotional intelligence can help you lead a more successful life.