It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year... Or Is It?


| 5 Comments

Each fall, after we hang up the pumpkins and Halloween costumes for another year, the holiday season is upon us.  In most cases it brings about quality time with family and friends and as the popular song says, it is supposed to be "the most wonderful time of the year." But when you think about, are people actually that much happier during the holiday season? Sure you have your diehards who have their Christmas tree up November 1st and live for cookie exchanges and beating the crowds to score the best gifts.  However, it has been proven that the holidays can actually be quite a disappointing and depressing time for many.

In a series of articles written in 2012 by contributors to The New York Times, professor of psychology at The University of California Riverside, Sonja Lyumbomirsky discusses this interesting phenomenon.  She points out that the reasons people probably aren't any happier during the holidays is because people set unrealistic expectations for this time of year and then are typically let down.  People create a fantasy that everything will go according to plan during the holiday season and then when little everyday problems pop up, people cannot handle it. (http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/12/23/why-arent-people-happier-during-the-holidays/the-fantasy-vs-the-reality-of-the-holidays)

This is a very easy concept for many to relate to. Speaking from personal experience, I always felt this way anytime I had a dance to attend in junior high or high school.  I would see how awesome and magical they were portrayed during TV shows and movies and then the real thing more often than not, turned out to be a total let down.  While it may not be the same level of letdown people feel during the Christmas season, the feeling is the same nonetheless.

On another note, the holidays can be a particularly difficult time for people who might be experiencing financial difficulties or coping with the loss of a loved one.  The influx of advertisements and media that promote the holidays as a time to give gifts and spend time with friends and family could cause many people serious distress.  While this is true and I've seen it happen firsthand, an article by NYU Langone Medical Center's website says that the common misconception of depression, anxiety and suicide rates rising this time of year is completely false.

"Various studies have found that depression and suicide rates are not linked to the holidays. Despite the media focus on suicides during the holiday season, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics report that suicide rates in the United States are lowest during the winter months and highest in the springtime (the reasons for this are not clear). Some authorities speculate that during springtime, when moods tend to improve after dark, winter days, those with depression may not feel happier while others around them do, thus encouraging suicidal feelings."  (http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=156980)

So while the holidays can bring joy and happiness into many homes, it can also be a tough time of year for just as many.  Instead of living in your own little happiness bubble, I think it is important to consider why many people may have negative feelings this time of year and count your blessings a little harder.  Or if you are someone who doesn't find the joy this time of year, to think of things that do make you happy and know that as quickly as the holidays come upon us, are as quickly as they leave.


http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=156980

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/12/23/why-arent-people-happier-during-the-holidays/the-fantasy-vs-the-reality-of-the-holidays


5 Comments

After reading your blog post I was interested and started to wonder myself. "Does christmas time make people more happy? According to http://www.lifetraininginstitute.com.au/life-training-institute/happiness/ There is truly a mix of answers. In the article it says that happiness is something that a lot of people want, they want to acquire it and this "want" increases at the time of the holidays. They say how the emotion of happiness is an internal experience. Meaning only you can make yourself happy. According to research by The Life Training Institute it was shown that "our circumstances only contribute to 10% of our happiness scores. That means that all those efforts to get more money, get fit, look more attractive, buy a bigger house, get the promotion, find the perfect partner, have children, take that holiday, improve your health or get the best Christmas presents will at best only increase your happiness by 10%. " - The Life Training Institute I think this is very interesting and eye opening . Its hard for us to realize that we are actually the ones in charge of our emotions, not our external experiences.

I think this blog could also point out a great thing people could do to help others out during the holidays. Everyone is excited about Christmas and presents and spending time with their family, but it should also be a time to realize how lucky we are to even have the opportunity to have a family, be able to give and get gifts from people we love..There are so many people that are homeless, in poverty or without families right now. This is a great time of year to be thinking about our families, but also be thinking about others who may not even have that much to get excited about and donate gifts and money to some local charities for kids to give them something to be excited for over the holidays too. Here's a website that gives some information on charities that help send gifts out to kids in need over the holidays.

http://christianity.about.com/od/holidaytips/tp/christmascharit.htm

I love your post because it definitely brings up the reality of the holidays. During the Christmas season, especially where I live, we are all so wrapped up in shopping, snow flurries, Christmas carols and holiday parties that we completely forget about people who aren’t as fortunate as us and would rather escape this time of year than embrace it like we do. It’s sad to think that some people do suffer from sadness during this period of time. However, it’s also frustrating to think that others would argue that sadness during the holiday season doesn’t exist saying things like, “Well how could anyone possibly be unhappy at a time like Christmas!” To them I say, open your eyes because I even did a simple Google search about unhappiness during the Holiday season and a plethora of articles relating to dealing with depression during the holidays came up. Check it out: https://www.google.com/search?q=unhappiness+during+holiday+season&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#q=unhappiness+during+holiday+season%3F&rls=org.mozilla:en-US%3Aofficial
Also, Debate.org did a poll about whether or not people are unhappy during the holiday season. The responses are quite interesting: http://www.debate.org/opinions/are-people-unhappy-during-the-holidays

I love your post because it definitely brings up the reality of the holidays. During the Christmas season, especially where I live, we are all so wrapped up in shopping, snow flurries, Christmas carols and holiday parties that we completely forget about people who aren’t as fortunate as us and would rather escape this time of year than embrace it like we do. It’s sad to think that some people do suffer from sadness during this period of time. However, it’s also frustrating to think that others would argue that sadness during the holiday season doesn’t exist saying things like, “Well how could anyone possibly be unhappy at a time like Christmas!” To them I say, open your eyes because I even did a simple Google search about unhappiness during the Holiday season and a plethora of articles relating to dealing with depression during the holidays came up. Check it out: https://www.google.com/search?q=unhappiness+during+holiday+season&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#q=unhappiness+during+holiday+season%3F&rls=org.mozilla:en-US%3Aofficial
Also, Debate.org did a poll about whether or not people are unhappy during the holiday season. The responses are quite interesting: http://www.debate.org/opinions/are-people-unhappy-during-the-holidays

I like the holidays, but I am not one of those people who LOVE the holidays.

I think there is a lot of hype about them, especially for people our age, because they just want a break and to go home! But that's not what the holidays are all about. As you said, some people have financial problems and cant buy gifts, this is also not all the holidays are about.

I find myself so stressed during the holidays because I don't know what gifts to buy my family members and I also don't have the money to buy them all the best ones.

This article talks about the stress that come with this happy time of the year and give tips on how to manage it:

http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/Stress_Management/hic_Managing_Holiday_Stress.aspx

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