Don’t worry, don’t over-stress — Christmas only comes around once a year.


You may think that’s a negative view, but for many, the holiday season isn’t the time of happiness and cheer that’s promoted. In fact, for significant numbers, this time of year is downright depressing.


Across our country, Christmastime can be cold, dark, dreary and grey. If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), this can be a peak problem period for you.


And it seems that every factor is exacerbated before, during, and right after the holidays. So, if you’re living alone and not by choice, it can feel far lonelier. If your bank account isn’t what you’d like it to be, gift-buying can prove difficult and worrisome. If you’ve lost someone dear, holidays and family time can bring up the grief feelings that you’ve worked so hard at stabilizing.

It’s also a time for reflection — a time to think about where you’ve been and what you’ve done — which can make you feel dissatisfied with yourself; or where you’re going and what your future holds, which can be bleak and scary.

I’m not trying to paint a largely negative picture — this is just how it is for some people. So ... if you nodded your head in agreement, or found yourself welling up with tears while reading this, realize that you’re not alone, it’s partly a side effect of the season, and this too shall pass.

If this isn’t you but sounds like someone you know, try to give that person a little extra attention over the next couple of weeks.

The key to getting through a potentially depressing holiday season successfully is to try not to spend too much time alone. When you’re with others, it’s easy to get distracted and forget about your own troubles and woes. And it’s also easy to get caught up in their revelry and happiness.

Need some help? Try these suggestions:

  • If you find that you haven’t been invited out, call up a few of your closest pals and invite them over to your place, or out, for an easy, no-effort get-together.

  • If you really don’t know anyone at all, volunteer somewhere, like a food bank, your local church or community centre, or a hospital. They’ll be very grateful for the help, and you’ll feel needed and appreciated.

  • If you don’t have much money, shop for your gifts at a dollar store. Everybody can use new markers, warm socks, dish towels, wooly mittens, or muffin pans (you could even include a store-bought mix).

  • Staying In? Buy yourself some comfort food, play your favourite music, and soak in a long, hot, blissful bath of lavender or eucalyptus (available at most drugstores).

  • If you’re far away from loved ones, find an Internet cafe with a web cam, so you can see each other; or iChat, to hear each other’s voices. If none of those are available, try Instant Messenger for some real-time conversation.

Lisi Tesher is a much travelled freelance writer who has studied art history, photography, languages and pop culture. She is also a constant and fascinated student of relationships, maintaining contact with a worldwide network.