Abundant Optimism

Helping people regain and keep an optimistic outlook in challenging circumstances and improve their creativity, mind, and skills.

Beating the Holiday Blues

by Tamara Martfeld

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Unfortunately for some, the end of Thanksgiving means the start of a season when they are down in the dumps, a little blue, or depressed (I will refer to all of them as being blue). I hope this does not apply to you, but if it does, try the tips below to bring back your positive attitude, joy, and optimism. If you are severely depressed, please seek professional help. If you are not blue during the season, the tips might help you enhance your season.

Many times the reason for feeling blue is that important people in your life are not present for the holiday season. Sometimes this means that either you or them could not travel or are committed to being in another location. Other times it means that the person has died. In any case, would they want you to be blue just because they are not there? If the answer is yes, I suggest re-evaluating the relationship. If the answer is no, then do your best to celebrate the season as if they were present, even to the point of talking to them when you are alone. If they have died and you believe in an after-life, you may be able to sense their presence or just know in your mind that they may be near. It can be difficult, however, being blue will not change the situation. You can miss their presence without bringing yourself down. Remember the happy times you have had with the person in the past – this may also help to raise your spirits.

Some are blue simply because of the season itself. If the decorations and other parts of the season are what get you down, do your best to ignore them. There are celebrations in my country which are specific to people of a given background such as Cinco de Mayo (Mexicans), Kwanza (African Americans), and Chinese New Year (I think you might be able to guess this one). I don’t celebrate any of these unless I am with others who are celebrating or need a new year (need to start over) and I simply ignore the decorations when they are out. Ignoring the decorations can be done. If this is not possible for you, get away from them as much as you can by taking a trip or doing a project inside your home. Have some friends over for a simple dinner “just because”. You do not have to take part in the celebrations of the season if you don’t want to, but don’t let the fact that others are celebrating affect you.

Several of those of a Christian faith are blue because they feel Jesus has been taken out of the celebration of Christmas. I believe that the real issue is that there are people “celebrating Christmas” without knowing what they are celebrating – they exchange Christmas gifts, take part in Christmas parties, and may even do something special on Christmas day without having any clue the reason for the holiday. As a matter of fact, last year I read a comment on a news story that asked why people are trying to make Christmas religious. I do not know if the same type of thing happens with the other celebrations – I have not heard one way or the other. If you experience people who are “celebrating” your holiday and obviously have no idea why, educate them. I see no issue with people celebrating each other’s holidays, but I also believe there should be understanding as to why the celebration is taking place as it helps people understand each other and can reduce conflict. One important thing to note here is to be a little careful, especially in the work place. In some situations there is care to not offend anyone, so there are “holiday” parties instead of parties for a given reason. This is to include everyone and it is best to not get too specific if you are in such a situation. Just sit back and enjoy the festivities.

I hear several people complaining that the season has gotten too commercial and feel blue as a result of the commercialism. I agree that it has gotten too commercial – I saw Christmas decorations in the stores before Halloween! However, don’t let the merchants and others being commercial take away the joy of the season for you. There are many celebrations at this time of year – Christmas, Chanukah, Winter Solstice, just to name a few. Immerse yourself in whatever you are celebrating and ignore the commercialism of the stores. If some store has gone way too far in the commercialism for you, boycott the store until the decorations come down. If you truly need something that only that store carries, ask someone to pick it up for you, or go through the store quickly. Next year plan ahead so you don’t have to go in. This is really easier than you might think. I believe that everyone should have the national holidays off with pay. I boycott all stores on all holidays. As for Black Friday – it has gotten too crazy. I don’t remember the last time I shopped on Black Friday week-end, not even in a grocery store. If you are brave, as we sadly almost need to be for this hint, wish others a Happy or Merry whatever you celebrate. I celebrate Christmas, but there is no reason I cannot have a great Winter Solstice or a Happy Chanukah as well. More important, if someone wishes you a Happy or Merry whatever, say “same to you”, and if you celebrate something else, also wish them a Happy or Merry whatever accordingly. Share the season with everyone around you, not just those celebrating what you are celebrating.

If you are feeling blue in general, one of the easiest ways to get out of the blues is to help someone else or give them a nice surprise. Helping someone else can be buying gifts for Toys for Tots or a similar program, helping in a soup kitchen, helping in a food closet, donating goods or money to these programs, or simply helping someone who is having difficulty get to their car or even through the door (ask first). A way of giving someone a nice surprise is to pay for their meal or coffee, giving a gift to someone who does not expect it, or even smile and say “hello”. I can tell you from personal experience that it is fun to find a small family and pay for their meal, including the tip. In a sit-down restaurant this involves the server, and the few times I have done it the server also had fun with the exchange. You can then stay long enough to see the family’s reaction or take off – both are fun. I have gone back to the restaurants and found that the family I surprised has passed on the surprise – over the last year one surprise has been passed on at lease 7 times!

I hope you need none of these hints. You can use them to enhance your holiday even if you are not blue. If you do need these hints I hope they help you.

I wish for you that this season of many holidays is joyful, full of positive energy, and full of optimism for your future!