Haze of the holidays

There’s something about this time of the year celebrating the newness of the occasion and the hope held in times to follow that should indeed be the optimum prescription for happiness. Setting in close on the heels of a rather extended festive season, the charms of which just refuse to die down, and resplendent in its own beckoning of the fresh and the new, new year’s is the time of rejoical indeed. And yet, the prevalence of the January blues is so globally common a phenomenon that sure can leave one baffled as to where exactly things went wrong. In fact, as the dubious distinction that follows January by way of being exactly the month when the universally most depressing day of the year aka Blue Monday sets in as well, and indeed in our own experiences over and over again through the years we can veritably realise the reality that the oxymoronic sound phrase of New Year’s Depression might entail. And while this might be a classic case of the post holiday blues setting in, as the ironic mannerism in which the beginning in newness marks also an end to all anticipation that has had us excited, this draining drama unravelling well indeed by the 1st of January isn’t an exclusive marring doomed to this ending of the season of festivities.

The winter timing that marks the onset of the year might be a factor very potent in aggravating that specific bout of depression but it is not any less a nature of the holidays to have us as susceptible to the bads as we are celebrating of the goods. Holiday burnout therefore strikes as not any aberration but rather a normal encounter that likely accompanies even those days of the year we so look forward to, at par with other more ‘notorious’ burnouts like occupational burnout and the like. This indeed is intriguing for how can something as fun as what the mere mention of holidays stands for end up igniting such helplessness in moods and behavior that even transcends such unwanted extremities as depression or burnout. But given that the human mind is as delicate an entity as it is resolute, even festive periods and holiday cheer can very well lead it to wobble across such factors that are prominent indeed in their pricking persistence.

Underlying the essence of the jovial, spirited, celebratory indeed assertion of the holiday vibes are such governing aspects of it very essential indeed to the ultimate enjoyment of which premise they are necessarily based on that however also can be effective emotional and mental triggers in their own right. The notion itself sounds ‘ominous’ indeed- to attribute to something as happy as holidays the existence of such concerns that camouflage out the grey streaks of character is something we would consider as being the exaggerated exploration of too skeptical a soul who- as the world would have it- does not simply know to seek the brights and lights of life. But it indeed is across such modes of typecasting holidays as having to be that specific time of the year when one is bound to be all things happy and gay that which paves the path for our mental health to falter even in such periods of exuberance.

As perplexing as it might sound, holidays can be grave cause for stress. The desire to indeed enjoy oneself to the fullest on one hand while trying to balance obligations and expectations on the other amounts to a very tricky crossroad upon which we fumble along the route to the ultimate holiday glory. Whether it be pending professional responsibilities or pressing personal commitments, the honoring of all of life’s legit concerns even in the face of the excitement that awaits itself can be overwhelming enough to send one spiraling into the alleys of gloom. It isn’t just the thought though that triggers emotional imbalance in the human, it also is the accompanying need of having to attend to and fulfill all duties in perhaps even greater exertion than normal that is what drains the fun out of aspiring holiday revellers way before they even get to experience the festivities unfolding. In the hectic rushing through chores that we carry out as something very quintessential a pre holiday routine, we are exhausting ourselves enough already at least mentally, if not physically to make any further activity, even in excitement, only a prospect to drain us out completely of all life. With little energy left to indulge in celebrations and having to witness instead all folks around full of life going about their enthusiasm in excessive profusion, it is no wonder that the actual holidays has us feeling more burned out than ever.

Also associated a strand of realisation that characterise the festive feels is that which is very characteristic itself of all things anticipatory in nature. As detours away from the ordinary, routine life that we look to break out from, holidays have that mark of specialness etched on them. Which means that holidays demand of us that extra effort to assert its standout importance in our lives, to make each of these days in leisure count in such experience that even in their simplicity would be more than just memorable. Setting the bar really high for expectations to gain ground, to such extents that even catapult them to the not very healthy horizons of the unrealistic, holidays thereby burden us with the pursuit of something that we seek to make happen whether we want it or not. And unrealistic expectations being the antidote to fulfillment and contentment and therefore happiness, it indeed is apparent why holidays leave us even less hale and hearty than how we had been prior to ‘enjoying’ them.

Holidays also are another opportunity for getting together with family and friends but when it strives to bring into contact conflicting relatives and bickering families, the fun of that grand anticipation dissipates even further. Conflict is an universal source of stress and specially familial conflict, the kind that pitts you against your own blood is even more draining an exertion upon one’s emotions. That obviously is something none of us looks forward to but come the festive season and meetups are something you can’t avoid. Or even when you do avoid, you find yourselves longing for the warmth that close knit bonds like these otherwise surmise. Dwelling therefore upon the unluckiness on your part of being deprived of such precious moments that is what makes life worth it, you begin to actually dread holidays and the like. In pondering so much over the tensions and turmoil characterising the relationships entailing to your person, your emotional self gets burned out to rather appalling extents. Circumstances like these that defy the typical holiday spirit in reverie and bliss can very often translate into such a dreaded perception of the days that can very well push you deep into depression.

Holiday burnout might be wholly emotional but that does not mean that they have to stem of such causes rooted in the mind. Finances can also drive the holiday experience haywire, whether it be having to incur additional expenses of the fun within a tight budget or even perhaps such uneasy concerns of uneven contributions to the party. Gift giving is another very customary ritual associated with festivals that can further impose itself upon your already drained bank balance. While the many benefits of gifting hold still over its expenses, it might even be the mere thought of incurring costs associated with delivering this expectation that can induce stressful responses. The whole gifting exercise can even manifest as exerting in circumstances even beyond the purview of the monetary. The desire to choose a gift that shows indeed your thoughtful working on it and that which gratifies the receiver sufficiently as well itself has been a long standing dilemma for the most of us. And to be faced with this predicament in addition to the mounting financial issues that anyway characterise holidays is a proposition well offsetting enough to make the mundane, routine life the days one ends up seeking succour in.

Another specific but significant impact working upon our experience of holidays that what might make it less fun and more frustrating a period to live through is the rekindling of such memories that involve a now lost loved one. Death is an inescapable reality of life and one that is so glaring in its hollowing impact that makes life itself less liveable. And while grief is something that inevitably accompanies loss, and perhaps even waning with time, occasions such as festivals and get togethers spark a return to the awareness of the void that is now an eternal truth of our existence. Whether it be yearning for the times spent together through holidays and events or even realising further the fact that someone is no more to accompany us in our cheer, it is inevitable indeed that holidays present the premise upon which we are compulsively brought to harbour our deepest insecurities and repressed fears. In such dynamic manner of arousing our most volatile emotions, of fanning further our vulnerabilities and presenting us perhaps with a picture f our lives that are far, far away from what we want them to be in the picture perfect holiday postcard presentation, those festive vibes get indeed to us in such conflicting, repulsive and depressing manifestation that take on the identity of ugliness, rounded up as holiday burnout.