THE festive season is here again – that time of year we’ve always been told is the most joyous on the calendar.
Yet, while Christmas is a happy experience for some, it can be far from it for others. A major case of the holiday blues can be brought on by the knowledge that it will be a Christmas without a loved one, or perhaps it will be marred by conflict and family tension, the weight of financial pressures or simply the realisation that another year has passed in a less-than-fulfilling marriage or job.
Whatever the cause for your festive unhappiness, it doesn’t have to be that way.
The most important step to achieving contentment at Christmas is to stop acting cheery when you’re not. That’s the opinion of author Dr Dain Heer.
“There’s this holiday myth that Christmas is a happy time for everyone,” the former chiropractor says. “If you’re happy over the holidays, then that’s great and that’s the way it could be and ought to be, but what I’ve found is that there are a lot of people who are unhappy during the holidays, even if just for a short time, and they don’t acknowledge it and realise, hey, I’m not alone here.”
Heer gives his six tips to help you through the yuletide season, and leave behind the “Bah, humbug!” for a happier Christmas and New Year.
1. Accept things are imperfect
“The holidays are a time of year when the need for perfection seems to rear its ugly head more than at any other time,” Heer says. “From when we’re little kids, Christmas is the time when we put on our ‘perfect face’, our ‘happy face’. Instead, Christmas should be a holiday to reflect on who you are, what makes you tick and what makes you truly happy.”
2. Take a day just for you
“My tip is that each person take at least one day during the holiday season just for them. Do whatever makes them happy.”
3. Don’t buy into other people’s drama
“When we do this, it’s destroying our own possibilities,” Heer says. “Let other people be unhappy if they choose to be. It isn’t your job to ‘fix’ them. We try to make ourselves responsible for other people’s unhappiness, but we can’t do anything if they’re not willing to change it themselves.”
4. Spend time with your favourite people It’s only natural to enjoy being around certain family members and friends more than others – and Christmas is the time to surround yourself with those who make you laugh, smile and feel good about yourself. “Hang out with happy people whom you truly like, whoever they are,” Heer adds. “Limit the time you spend with the people who are most in judgment of you to the minimum.”
5. Disown negative thoughts
Feeling down is a choice, Heer says. “[In regards to] the thoughts, feelings, emotions and judgments you have during this time, ask, ‘Who does this belong to?’ Most people think that if they feel something it’s theirs, so they try to find out what’s wrong with them – but what if it isn’t them? We’re like a big psychic radio receiver and the things you’re experiencing – the heaviness, the judgment, the wrongness – are not really yours. Return them to sender.”
6. Stop feeling guilty- Self-judgment and criticism can take on a life of their own, so it’s vital to put an end to this vicious cycle, Heer says. “When you notice yourself judging yourself, see a hand or a stop sign in front of you and take a moment to ask, ‘What other choice do I have here? What else is possible? ‘
Let me know your thoughts.