The end-of-year celebrations can be jolly, cheerful, amicable… but also depressing and lonely.
December is a behemoth of a month. Stuffed to the brim with holidays, celebrations, seemingly endless shopping lists, and a million little rituals to be observed here and there.
Despite musicians screaming through our car radios about how happy they are that it's Christmas and the hordes of shopping centre Santas glaring at us in a frozen expression of perpetual jolliness, let's not sugar-coat it: The end of the year can be a crushingly depressive time, and it is just that for numerous people every year.
Acknowledging this, let's discuss some ways we can make the end of the year a gentler time, even if we do get caught up in the Christmas blues.
First of all, DON'T feel obligated to do anything! Expectations are high during the final weeks of the year, and it can sometimes feel like you have to do certain things. However, let me fill you in on a little secret: No one is actually checking in on that. So, whenever something holiday-related puts you under a lot of pressure, you may want to consider asking yourself whether it is actually worth that effort.
The other side of that coin: DO go for anything that you enjoy doing. Whether it's taking a stroll through your local Christmas market or whipping up a batch of mulled wine or fruit punch at home: If it makes you happy, it's well worth your time. This is also goes for some less traditional approaches to the holidays. Feel like just having some take-away and kicking back on your couch on Christmas Eve? Sure, why not. You don't owe anything to anyone, so be sure to go with what feels right.
DO feel free to talk to someone if you are feeling down. While the holidays are commonly thought of as a social occasion, a time to get together with your loved ones, there's no denying that Christmas is also a very difficult time for a lot of people. There are many reasons for feeling depressed, lonely, or overwhelmed, and they are all valid. If you're in a bad head space, try and be open about it.
Here's a tough one: DON'T get lost in needless consumption. Christmas is the high feast of our profit-driven economy and anxious shoppers are the turkey dinner of the retail world. Get ready to be bombarded with targeted ads and strategically planned marketing assaults but try your best to resist the urge to fill that hole inside you with twerking Santa figurines or snowmen that play a low-quality MP3 version of that one Mariah Carey song. It has perhaps never been so important to question our consumer behaviour and limit our spending to objects that we will actually use and enjoy using.
DO think about charity – but be smart about it! Helping others makes us happy – altruism is at the heart of human nature, no matter what current affairs may sometimes lead you to think. If you have some money to spare, consider making a donation. But if you do, don't just throw it into the first supermarket collection tin you come across. Do some research, find a cause that speaks to you, and a team or association that you trust to make a difference. If you don't have the money or want to take a more proactive approach, find a local charity looking for volunteers. Lots of hands are needed around Christmas time and it can help you rediscover a sense of meaningfulness that you may be unable to see within yourself at the moment.
DON'T fall into the self-optimisation trap. Once Christmas has come and gone, the new year is rapidly approaching. And even though we all make fun of it, many of us still make new year's resolutions. By all means, if you want to get into a good habit or get rid of a bad one, go for it. But do we seriously think that this is the best time for it? Let's see, we've just come out of December, the most stressful month of the year, and are sliding right into January, famously the most depressing month there is. Ah yes, the perfect time for life-altering commitments! But in all seriousness, don't feel pressured to turn your whole life upside-down just because it is the start of a new year.