For some of us, the approach of the holidays serves as a reminder of lost loved ones or financial difficulty. Hectic work schedules, domestic squabbles and children with unrealistic expectations may make you feel like a failure. In order to make the most of the holiday season, you have to remind yourself (and the people around you) that there is more to Christmas than commercialism and selfishness. As a matter of fact, Christmas is the season of selflessness and nostalgia. Instead of feeling indifferent or depressed this Christmas, reflect on happier times. Hold on to memories of loved ones–but do not let those memories prevent you from enjoying life.

What can you do?
1. Embrace Christmas. If you convince yourself that Christmas is terrible, you will feel anxious and depressed as it approaches each year. Do something that you would not normally do to get into the spirit of Christmas. If you feel alone this Christmas, send out Christmas cards to friends and co-workers. If they reciprocate, hang your Christmas cards proudly. Whenever you feel alone, look at your Christmas cards. Those small tokens should serve as a reminder that someone cared enough to remember you this Christmas.
2. Keep yourself occupied. Prevent your mind from wandering into dark places. If you’re worried about finances and you cannot afford gifts, use your time to create a personalized gift. Paint a picture or write a poem. Create a slide show of pictures and burn it on a DVD for your relatives. Create interesting Christmas ornaments for all of your friends.
3. Cry. If you feel the urge to cry, let it out. If you feel like talking to someone, call them. Do not let your tears prevent you from calling a supportive friend. You are not a burden. Friends are there to support one another.
4. Sing along with Christmas songs on the radio. If you feel like having company over, get into the spirit of Christmas with Christmas karaoke. If you don’t know the words to the songs, make them up as you go along. Laughter is the best medicine for depression at Christmas.
5. Reflect. If you’ve felt depressed before at Christmas time, strive to make this Christmas different. Focus on the positive things that make Christmas special. Consider how fortunate you are to be in a warm location, reading this right now. Perform a selfless act for someone less fortunate than you are. Donate old clothing, extra blankets or unused toys to a family this Christmas. Turn your depression into constructive energy. Donate your time at a local shelter or hand out handmade Christmas cards at a nursing home–a place where many people feel depressed at Christmas. Not only will you reflect on the positive aspects of your own life, but you’ll feel happy that you made a real difference to one person (or one family) this Christmas.