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

Some people find that holiday depression feeds on itself.  In the beginning, they are unhappy for a specific reason.  Then they are upset at themselves for being unhappy at Christmas.  And they may also resent the real or imagined pressure from those around them to be in a better mood. All of this can turn a mild case of the blues into a black mood.

If you have the holiday blues this Christmas seasons here are some things you can do:

  • Vow to eliminate some the hecticness from your.  Pare down the activities, preparations, shopping, parties, cards, cooking, baking, cleaning, decorating, wrapping, entertaining and accommodating to friends and family you usually do.
  • Seek out people who make you feel better, and avoid people who contribute to your depression.
  • Be more physically active.  Physical activity is one of the best antidotes to depression.
  • Think back to your childhood Christmas.  Which traditions, activities or occasions were particularly pleasurable for you?  Are any of those memories reflected in your current celebration?
  • What do you have to look forward to after Christmas?
  • From everything you know about yourself and Christmas, what changes would you like to make in the coming celebration?
  • Don’t invite people who have a history of drinking too much to Christmas festivities, and tell them why.  Problem drinkers are not fragile.  Straight honest talk about what you expect may also work.
  • Pay attention to what you like, love, respect love and appreciate about yourself.

You might also try the following exercise. Choose a quiet location where you won’t be interrupted, close your eyes and imagine Christmas two years from now.  Imagine any kind of Christmas you wish as long as it is deeply satisfying.

You can magically include your favorite friends and relatives, and make them behave any way you wish.  You can celebrate in any setting.  You don’t have to keep a single traditional Christmas activity, or you can keep them all.  This will be Christmas the way you have always wanted it to be.  If you find yourself with multiple fantasies, keep returning to the ideas that make you feel most satisfied.

Once you have settled on a particular fantasy, stick with it until you have enriched it with a lot of details.  Imagine the physical setting, the activities, how you are feeling and how other people are feeling.  What kind of food is there?  How was it made?  Are there any gifts?  What are they like? Then write your fantasy down on a separate sheet of paper, and answer the following questions:

  1. Of all the ways your fantasy was different from your usual Christmas, which difference was most satisfying to you?
  2. Which parts of your fantasy would be most feasible for you to actually do for Christmas?

The first step in making your Christmas a better experience is to figure out what you want different. For most people, the real problem is that they haven’t taken the time to define for themselves what’s most important to them about Christmas, and what changes they might make that would add to the celebration.

Despite what you may think, most people are no more or less happy at Christmas than they are at any other time of the year.

“He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence.”   William Blake

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

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