"Dear Lou, 

What can I do to combat holiday depression? I realize that in the grand scheme of things, I have absolutely nothing to complain about. So many people have huge problems they have to deal with every day and there are people out there who are scared, or in pain, or who have lost everything. I actually feel really guilty about this but here it goes anyway. I’m single for the holidays for the first time in about five years, and I’m completely bummed about it. It hasn’t been with the same person, but in the past I’ve always been in a relatively serious relationship during the holidays. Well, my most recent girlfriend and I broke up this past spring; nothing terrible, it just wasn’t going anywhere. We parted on really good terms and actually she’s in a very serious relationship now and I am genuinely happy for her. But on the other hand, it kinda makes me feel even worse. I keep trying not to even think about the holidays because the idea just sounds so pathetic and lonely. Now I’m insulting single people, aren’t I? Great, another thing to feel guilty about! What do you recommend, other than a swift kick in the ass?

Mopey Dick

Dear Mopey,

What you’re feeling is VERY common, regardless of relationship status. Family stress, rabid materialism and unrealistic expectations leave many people reeling in holiday disappointment and depression. This doesn’t mean you don’t recognize the problems and needs of others, or that your feelings are somehow invalid. The ills of this world will not be made worse by you acknowledging the fact that you aren’t feeling particularly festive. But what you choose to do with that acknowledgement can go a long way toward helping yourself and others.

Now is a perfect opportunity to focus on the things that can make this time of year wonderful. Get involved, first of all. There’s no better moment to set up donations to charities and causes you are passionate about, or, better yet, volunteer your time and talents to make someone’s holiday, or life, better. Helping others has the added benefit of lifting your own spirit. Speaking of which, if you are a person of faith, obviously prayer and time spent at your place of worship can only do you good.

On the social side of things, don’t forget that holidays aren’t just for couples. Spend time with your family, just talking.  If you’re up for it, organize a holiday party for your friends, be it dinner/pitch-in at your place, getting a private room at a restaurant or attending an event together. However you choose to do it, reach out to those you love, and help those who need a hand. They can give you something of great value in return: a reason to really celebrate!

Love,

Lou

P.S. Volunteering is a great way to meet other singles, mwah ha ha ha ha.

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