Note: This is the first of a two-part series. Click here for part two

You are riding through the snowy New England countryside in a sleigh pulled by a magnificent team of Clydesdale horses.  The only sounds you hear are the hooffalls of the horses, the creaking of harnesses and the ringing of sleigh bells.  You finally arrive at your destination, and as you knock on the door of the elegant country house, a television announcer breaks into your reverie.

All of a sudden you realize you are sitting in an armchair watching television, not riding in a horse-drawn sleigh, and that this delightful 60-second ride through the snow has been brought to you by a certain brand of beer.  As the commercial fades away, you are faced once again with the reality of everyday life.

Most people feel at least a little uneasy as the holiday season approaches.  The winter holidays can be fun, joyful and uplifting. But they can also be stressful, expensive, lonely, empty and depressing.

There may be any number of reasons for you not to feel happy:  you may not be able to be with your children for Christmas. You may not be getting along with your family, you may be worried about money, you may feel lonely, or have health problems, or job concerns or a major relationship in your life may not be working out so well.  Or you might be spending Christmas alone.

Unfortunately, problems don’t disappear at Christmas, and may even be intensified by the cultural message that you are some sort of Scrooge if you are not feeling warmhearted and happy during the holiday season.

Regardless of your religious beliefs or the significance you attach to the event, Christmas is impossible to ignore.  You can’t turn on the radio, go to a restaurant, go shopping or open your mail without being confronted with images of the holidays.

The following ideas are designed to buffer you from having the holiday blues:

  • Figure out exactly what is it that you are sad, regretful or disappointed about.
  • If you were to take responsibility for your life, your well-being, and for the attainment of your goals, what would you do?  What would you stop doing?
  • How could you invite deeper connections and more meaningful friendships with people in your life?
  • Set some new goals for yourself.
  • What’s fun?  Figure out the answer to this question.
  • Lighten up on food, alcohol and recreational drugs.  Most of us overindulge in items that really don’t make us feel better, and frequently make us feel worse.
  • Watch less T.V., videos and movies.  Be more an active participant in your life, and less an observer.
  • Plan something special soon: a weekend trip, a vacation or a visit to somebody special.
  • Figure out how to pamper yourself in ways that are positive, healthy and that truly serve you.
  • Pay attention to the people, things or events you are most grateful, thankful or appreciative of.
  • What or whom do you still have to forgive?
  • What adventures do you want in your future?
  • Quit thinking and acting out of fear.  Don’t let your fears stop you from doing what matters to you.

Source: Unplug The Christmas Machine by Robinson and Staeheli (William Marrow).

I will continue these recommendations in next week’s column.

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