Fighting the Holiday Blues

Snowflake - Oana Mihaela Trif

The holidays, not unlike New Year's Eve, require fun. Fun, fun, fun, all the time. But what if you have an adverse reaction to all of this forced cheer? The Soul Sister helps.

Dear Soul Sister

I am dreading Christmas. Wile everyone talks about parties and the magazines are full of 'must have' presents, I loathe the idea of Jingle Bells, A White Christmas, endless turkey meals and drunken office do's. It makes me depressed. What's wrong with me?

Grinch


Dear Grinch

Absolutely nothing is wrong with you - lots of people feel down around the holidays. But I still think it's worth looking a bit more closely at what's going on.

Are you dreading the parties and the drunken behaviour, or are you secretly concerned about not being invited? Are you dreading the presents, or do you fear giving - or getting - the wrong ones? It seems you are 'globalizing' as Cognitive Behavioural Therapists would say -  or painting the whole picture black with loathing instead of looking more carefully at what's going on inside your head.

It is always easier to dismiss something wholesale rather than looking at the specifics you don't like. Drunken parties can be annoying, but can you find a way to mix with everyone in a way that will be good for your working relationships? Presents are always a quagmire, especially with women who read so much into them (like the state of the relationship).

If you are not part of the majority who celebrates Christmas in England, the holidays can be a time that makes you fell as though you don't belong. But it's completely up to you to decide where and when to join their festivities. Managing your feelings is simply a part of being in a minority. And just think, by skipping the high street, you can also skip the crowds and save money.

Here are a few more suggestions:

  • Consider specifics about what makes you happy and what makes you unhappy at this time of year, and do more of what makes you happy. You can also set yourself up for this time by being honest with yourself and others. If you don't have loads of money to spend, tell your friends, and spend your time to give them something thoughtful instead. I bet you would make them and you happier that way.
  • If you're feeling down about not having much money, try working in a soup-kitchen for just one night over the holidays, and you'll feel rich in more ways than you'd think. Again, use your time, and it will help re-arrange your perception.
  • If you're feeling lonely, look around - you are certainly not the only one. Try to make just one person happier this season and notice the difference it makes for both of you.
The end of the year invites reassessment and forward planning. Instead of being fearful of this opportunity, make good use of this inclination for self-inspection and introspection. It is useful to occasionally contemplate your life, so welcome your thoughtfulness and don't confuse it with depression - a much overused word.

This is your time to plan for 2008 and the future you want for yourself, so use it well, and make sure to plan in lots of fun.


To submit a question, email soulsister@hereisthecity.com. Unfortunately, she can't answer all questions or enter into correspondence.