The traditional ‘Colours of Christmas’
Christmas colours tend to be white, holly red and green.
Yet I know that for a lot of people Christmas has another colour associated with it, blue. And not just one blue but THE blues (no – not the football team!)
If you’re one of these people (or you know someone who is) this article is for you – to help you get out of the blues and into a brighter frame of mind, surrounded by more uplifting colours.
What brings on the Blues?
The Blues can be brought on by any number of Christmassy activities. Activities that, for others, seem to spell happiness and joy. It can be hard to admit that you’re just not ‘feeling the love’ when those around you seem to be full of the joys of the festive season. You might put on that happy smile – after all you don’t want to be the local grinch – but deep inside you’re feeling anything but gladness.
Over the years, I’ve worked with many people who have suffered from the Christmas blues. These are some of the things that might trigger a less-than-merry state, followed by some solutions that will put the joy and peace back into your joyful, peaceful season.
Missing a dear friend or relative.
Normally a time when families and friends get together, Christmas could very well remind you of dear friends or family members who have died and drive you into a sorrowful state.
Firstly, acknowledge your loss. Trying to put on a happy face for the benefit of others is like putting a band-aid over a gaping wound; it’s cosmetic and has no impact on the healing. So acknowledge your loss – firstly to yourself. Take time to remember the person who is no longer in your life.
Experience your grief and remind yourself of the positive impact they had on your life.
You can do this by lighting a candle and sitting quietly, being grateful for all the joy the person bought you. Remember that a part of that person is still alive within you. If you feel comfortable, it can be useful to talk about it with other people who knew the person you’re grieving. Most likely they feel the same way as you. I’ve met whole families who are ‘being strong’ for one another when individually they’re falling apart. Let supportive friends know how you’re feeling.
Think about how you’d like to spend Christmas this year, and then make some plans to make it happen.
You or other members of your family have moved away and the family can’t all be together.
As children grow it’s inevitable that they’ll eventually leave home and perhaps start having their own families. While life involves constant change, Christmas is a time that is often associated with happy childhood memories of safety, security, togetherness and love; values that many of us share and long to rekindle.
While it’s not always possible for families and friends to physically be together on Christmas Day, connecting by phone or Skype is workable for many. Scheduling a Skype or Facetime video call means you can see each other. I know some families that organise to open presents while on the call, so they can see each others reactions.
Strapped for cash
The season of giving doesn’t come cheap. Being short of money to buy presents and the extra food that seems to be a central part of Christmas, can prove extremely stressful. TV advertising can make you feel compelled to buy gifts. Children may add extra pressure by demanding the latest, greatest gadget that all their schoolmates are getting.
This nagging can lead to other problems (see below) and a tendency to overspend or go ballistic with the credit card. Any counselling or budgeting service will tell you that their greatest influx of clients is at the start of a new year. Christmas spending catches up when the credit card bills arrive. Without the money to pay for them, people sink into depression and overwhelm.
Leave your credit cards at home when you go shopping! Yes, O.K. take your credit cards, but plan ahead how much you’ll spend so you know what to expect when the credit card bill arrives.
Children are resilient and will get over not getting exactly what they want. If you can’t afford what they’d like, explain the situation to them in advance. If they really want something and they’re old enough, encourage them to find ways to earn the money for themselves; you’ll build their sense of being responsible for their own lives and they will appreciate their purchase that much more.
Look for ways to make Christmas affordable:
Can you make gifts for Christmas? What food can you make instead of buying it ready made from the supermarket? Smaller children will delight in making Christmas goodies that they can wrap and give as presents to aunts and uncles. Planning ahead of time can make a big difference. Set up a direct debit system for next year where a portion of your money goes into a separate Christmas account (even $10 a week will give you an extra $500 to spend come the festive season)
Agree to an amount you’ll spend on each person and then stick to it. Try to buy presents at different times of the year. This way you avoid having to spend mega-bucks all at once.
Do the Secret Santa thing – so each person buys just a single present.
Tell the people you normally buy for that you won’t be buying expensive presents this year. Do you really think your nearest and dearest would want you to experience financial hardship on their behalf?
Worrying about what the new year might bring.
Do you look back over the past year and berate yourself for not having achieved as much as you’d hoped? Do you compare your achievements unfavourably to the achievements of others? Or do you worry about what next year might bring; how secure your job might be, how mortgage rates will affect you etc? Indulging in any of these activities is likely to make you feel worse!
Look at what you have achieved given your circumstances of the last year. Be realistic. Don’t compare your achievements with the likes of Richard Branson or Oprah Winfrey who have millions of dollars at their disposal!
Make some positive plans for next year. See “The Scientific Way to Achieve Your Goals”
Be genuinely grateful for what you have. Look around and remind yourself to be grateful for the people in your life, your home, your neighbourhood etc. How many things can you find to be grateful for?
Remember, you can’t change the past, you can only learn from it. So learn and move on. You don’t know what the future will bring, so worrying about it is counter productive. Focus on the present – it’s all you have in reality – and it’s a real gift ?.
Watching too many Christmas movies and listening to Christmas songs
These inevitably end with everyone living ‘happily ever after’, which is clearly not always the case in real life. Christmas songs are famous for their ability to anchor you back into happy childhood memories and, therefore, remind you about how much life has changed – for better or worse.
Notice yourself getting anchored into these negative states. Create another anchor for yourself that will get you into a better emotional state. See What is anchoring for more information on this, or How to Stop Your Habitual Knee-Jerk Reactions.
Feeling stressed from trying to meet too many obligations.
There are always extra commitments at Christmas time. Does everything really need to be done, and everyone seen, in the space of a few days?
- Find a way to take a bit of time out. Even if you can find 15 minutes to go for a walk in the park or on the beach you’ll find it easier to face your Christmas responsibilities on your return.
- Delegate some chores to others wherever possible.
- Say ‘No’ occasionally – unless you’re superman or superwoman.
- Pace yourself so you can genuinely enjoy the season and the people. Otherwise, you’ll end up joining the masses of others who are just glad when the whole thing’s over!
Still Feeling Blue?
Please Yourself! Find something that YOU really want to do over Christmas;
- Go on holiday.
- Read a book.
- Head to the beach/hills/bush.
- Stay in bed all day.
- Lock the doors and pretend you’re out!
- Volunteer somewhere to help others have a nice time.
Change the colours
You can change the colours by changing your thinking. Try this simple process:
- Think of a time when you’ve felt really happy (any time will do).
- Notice how you represent that memory in your mind (what picture are you making, what sounds are associated with the picture, and what are you saying to yourself? Make a mental note of these things. Notice where in your body you feel happy. Concentrate and extend the area of happiness to encompass your whole body. As the feeling of being happy peaks, press the thumb and middle finger of your non-dominant hand together to anchor the positive state. You can repeat this step if you want to so that the feeling of happiness is really strong.
- Stand up and walk around for a minute or two and have a stretch.
- Now think of a Christmas situation that makes you feel sad. Notice the colours of the image you have associated with it. Press your thumb and finger together again and notice what happens!
There are other articles on this site that will help you get in a more colourful frame of mind, a better mood, stop people winding you up, feel more peaceful and relaxed. Try these for a start: