Christmas and New Year Survival Guide



I’m a bit of a grinch. Well I am not technically “the grinch“, but the word has come to mean anyone who has an anti-holiday, or anti-christmas attitude.

I’m not sure where I got this attitude from. I had very enjoyable Christmases growing up, and always enjoy catching up with family around this time of year. I eat and drink lots, give and receive presents and spend as much time in the garden as I can. But there is this low level grumpiness that hits me this time of year.

I’m pretty sure the reason is that I find the rampant commercialism that is associated with Christmas to be quite repugnant. We spend so much money on crap and then exchange that crap with each other, then spend January trying to work out what to do with all that crap. I also really hate Christmas Carols.

The reason I tell you this though is not about making myself feel better, but to let you know that because of my ‘grinchiness’ (I made up a word), I am acutely aware that for many people, the Christmas and New Year period is not necessarily a happy one.

There are lots of reasons why someone might find this time of year difficult:

  • They don’t have the money to participate in the absurd exchange of crap gifts or the overeating
  • They are lonely, maybe because of family conflict, or loss of loved ones
  • They are away from home
  • They have to work long hours during the holiday period
  • The media (including social media like Facebook) is saturated with lots of images of family and partying and having fun. If you aren’t having fun, watching these images is annoying.
  • People use this period to reflect on the year that has been, and if you’ve had a tough year, it might bring up upsetting memories
  • Those who are studying and recently completed exams might be dealing with bad results and having to re-think their plans
  • You hate the colours red and green or have a phobia of fat men with white beards
  • You kinda wish this time of year was still about Jesus, and not iPads

So this post goes out to those who are finding it a bit difficult this time of year. Here are my top 9 survival tips:

  1. Google “hate christmas”. You’ll discover you are not alone. You’ll also discover a bunch of ways that other people who are not enjoying this time of year cope with it.
  2. Comment on Facebook posts. Some recent research out of Facebook has supported what mental health professionals have suspected for a while, which is that passive consumption of social media (i.e. just scrolling through posts) makes people feel worse. However, active consumption (i.e. commenting on posts, sharing, starting conversations) makes people feel better. Get more active on your social media accounts.
  3. Start a project. Doesn’t really matter what it is: drawing, gardening, writing, build something; photography, fitness. Just make it something with a clear goal, that will require your focus for a week or two. Document your project and post it on social media. Show that you don’t need to have a traditional christmas to still have fun and create stuff.
  4. Declutter. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests those who actively minimize their lifestyle (reduced stuff, reduced work hours) and focus on things they love, report higher life satisfaction, more positive emotion and less negative emotion. Xmas and New Year are a great time to declutter because you can act all superior to others, because you are simplifying your life, whilst others pack more crap into theirs. Google “decluttering” and you’ll find lots of different methods for how to go about it. My personal favourite is Marie Kondo.
  5. Volunteer. It seems counter-intuitive when you are feeling isolated or alone and wanting people to pay attention to you, that you then go out and help others instead. But there is a significant body of literature supporting the benefits of volunteering. For opportunities try starting here. I also find donating to charities at this time of year to make me feel good.
  6. Online discussion forums. Who said that you have to interact with people in the real world to have fun? There are forums and communities for just about every interest nowadays. Love Game of Thrones? – there are forums for that. Love knitting? there’s a forum for you. I think you get the point 🙂
  7. Be a tourist in your own city. Grab a backpack, some water and food and a camera and be a tourist in your own town. Visit – to get some ideas on where to start. Remember to post those experiences on social media to make other people jealous.
  8. Write letters. If you are away from loved ones, grab a coffee and a biscuit and sit down and write them a letter. It’s totally old school, but they will love it. Tell them about how your year went. Tell them you love them. Tell them you miss them.
  9. Blatantly invite yourself to stuff. This isn’t the time of year to be shy. Know that someone is having a social event and really want to attend? Ask em if you can. If they say ‘no”, just say “whoops, I forgot I have something amazing on that day anyway”. If you do get invited, remember to bring a bottle of wine or a food contribution (‘bring a plate’). Will increase your chances of being invited again.

If you find yourself really struggling this time of year, remember that services like Lifeline and Beyondblue are available all the time. For additional supports, visit here.

I wish you all the best at this time of year. I hope you can find something or someone to see you through to 2018 with a smile.

Talk to you in the new year 🙂


Posted in
Random Gareth Pontifications

Leave a Reply