Thursday, December 15, 2016

How To Survive Christmas

It's confession time: Christmas has lousy associations for me and New Year is even worse.  I do survive them but the ways I use are a mix of conventional and unusual. So I thought I'd share.
Punch you for Christmas
Thanks WeKnowMemes

First, for those of you who know me, you might wonder how come it's even an issue, seeing I live in South East Asia.

Well, although Malaysia has oodles of non-Christians, and we have at least four New Year type holidays that I can think of, there's no getting away from the fact that the holidays are big here - especially in shopping centers, pubs and on TV. 

Also, people like to party! Our local supermarket was playing Jingle Bells last month, and the hairdresser was at it before Thanksgiving. 

I find it all a bit much sometimes, but it needn't be all depressing all the time. Here's what I find works for me.

1. Accept That You're Allowed To Hate The Holidays - And Maybe Make A Game Of It

The world is happy and you're not. That's okay. It's nothing to feel guilty about. Unless you live in a place where fun is dictated by law, you can feel however you like.

However, it helps to separate what you feel from how you want others to feel. I enjoy watching people be happy and I recognise I don't need to feel the same. I find this cheers me up.

Also, when you're down, any problems that crop up seem much more major than they really are. This is a classic issue that comes with depression. If you can recognise that, it makes being down about the holidays easier to live with.

I have a fairly dark sense of humour at times, so I not only recognise when my world is distorted, I make a game out of it.

Like yesterday I had several computer problems that meant I couldn't get my work done. The courier didn't turn up, an interview was cancelled... it just went on and on.  

Usually that stuff doesn't bother me but with the holidays coming up, I was just doom and gloom. Then, when my smallest cat threw up all over the laundry I'd just done, I began tallying up Bad Things That Happened Today and was able to laugh about it.

2. Feel Free Not To Join In

If you don't like the holidays, you don't have to pretend to celebrate them. When you get party invites say you're busy or you have a prior date if you want to be polite.

I find that with friends it's easier to be open and say, "This time has bad associations for me so I don't celebrate." The advantage of this is that you don't have to repeat yourself every year.

There are also people who refuse to accept a no to their invitations.  "I hear you don't celebrate but you simply must come to my house. I insist!" 

Remember, it's okay to say no but it's controlling not to accept no. Feel free to give them a cold stare and to icily refuse.

3. Don't Celebrate The Holidays; Celebrate Having A Day Off

As we have days off work, this is the perfect time to do stuff you normally wouldn't do. Spend the days baking, taking fencing lessons, trekking in the wilderness. Basically, do something you love and treat yourself kindly.

Also, if you're in a place like Malaysia, there are plenty of shops that are open and not celebrating. This may be the perfect time to go and eat a Chinese dum sum buffet or to find a place that does the world's best Bak Kut Teh.

4. Arrange for Marathon Film Fests, Junk Food And Sleep

The holidays consist of a limited number of days. You can totally avoid the period by switching off your phone and social media, stocking up on films and going totally bear-like.

The Terminator

I like to watch all the Jaws films (yes, even that 3rd one!) and then all the Predators, and then Terminator 1 and II (III was a disaster and IV was just arrrrggghhh!). 

Add in all the original Robocop films and you have two or three days of film heaven. Roll into bed and have Technicolor dreams about sharks eating you up, afterwards.

Note: junk food is salty so stock up on loads of water, and make ice cubes if you like it frosty.

5. When You Really Are A Mess

If this is a time when someone close to you died, or you can't see your kids, or some other serious issue, then you need to be practical and make yourself a rescue plan.

If there's a friend who's willing to be on stand-by, arrange for that support. You know yourself so anticipate what you may need and when. Then ask if your friend is willing or able to back you up. If necessary, work it like a team.

If you don't want to talk to a friend, then jot down the numbers of the many charity hotlines that remain open at this time of year. Don't be ashamed to call them up; it's what they do that's fantastic.

Think you're really not safe?  Then go talk to your doctor and ask to see a psychiatrist. Seriously, don't suffer. It's not useful to be miserable and it's preventable. Get the help you deserve.

This is very much unlike my usual posts so do tell me what you think. 

Also, Merry Christmas! Remember, it's only a few days and then it will be over.