I’m the type who gets very blue around Christmas time – I just want to hide under a rock until it’s over. Yet, many of my colleagues enjoy the “festive” season and, in various and subtle ways, bring a bit of it to work. How can I block it all out without coming off like a Scrooge?
Christmas is a high stress time for most people, even those who love it. But everyone handles stress differently. Respecting what you feel, knowing how to best take care of yourself, and being honest and clear to yourself and those around you might be the best Christmas gift of all.
Start with self-reflection and being honest with yourself about your feelings. Take the time to become clear about precisely what it is that gets you down. If you have come to peace with your own feelings, you won’t be sending mixed signals and then it will be easier for others to respect what you need and want.
This exploration will also allow you to do some self-care that addresses the core issue. Find someone who you can talk to who won’t try to change the way you feel. This can give you a sense of solidarity at a time when people often feel isolated.
Other self-care might include: taking some of your holiday time in the weeks leading up to Christmas; if possible, work on projects from home or in a semi-secluded state during this time; save up your favourite parts of the job to do now, to balance out the season; or start pre-planning a holiday to look forward to later on.
As well, talk to people who don’t actively celebrate Christmas and ask them how they handle this time of year. Find others who feel as you do and consider adopting some of their strategies.
Be honest with your co-workers about your experience. Letting people know where you stand, and why, means there is no room for misinterpretation; it’s to be hoped they won’t take your choices personally. Then, you can do what is right for yourself and so can they. Giving them more information about the “why” can be useful, so that they are not inclined to try to change your mind or cheer you up.
Take a look around. Others may not be singing and dancing with antlers on their heads either. Who knows, through your honesty you might open the door for others who wish they didn’t need to pretend to be so festive, but don’t want to be the party pooper. Remember, in the end, Scrooge became a hero of sorts.
Globe and Mail; December 5, 2007