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Arlin Cuncic

Not Everyone Enjoys the Holidays

By December 24, 2008

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This post is inspired by a recent article on the same topic. The author discusses how "Christmas is not a Happy Time for Everyone" in the context of social anxiety disorder (SAD).

I believe this to be true. A time of year that generally involves many more social obligations than usual can only put a strain on those who experience anxiety in the company of others. And for those that have become isolated, it can be a particularly lonely time as well. This week, I'd like to invite comments from readers about your experience of the holidays. Is this a happy time of year for you or not?

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December 24, 2008 at 9:55 pm
(1) Jerry says:

Christmas a happy time..?
Christmas hasn’t been really happy since early childhood, now I’m wondering about that. (Actually have felt awkward about gift giving/receiving most of my life, embarassed???)

Christmas is a special time of year, I acknowledge the openness of people at this time of year. But that does not mean it’s a happy time personally.

I am new (30 days) at using Positve Mental Attitude to fight SAD, this year is actually more positive due to the personal attitude change. I do feel better, not quite happy, but am working on it.
Thanks for the question…

December 24, 2008 at 11:30 pm
(2) kaliraven says:

Before I was aware that I had SAD, holidays could be a difficult time to get through. There is little more torturous to me than having to spend hours and hours on end in a room with a large group of people, even when they are people I know like family and friends. (It’s worse when there are people I don’t know or don’t know well.)

After I was diagnosed with SAD and began considering what I needed, holidays became a lot better for me. I was able to tell family and friends that I have SAD and sometimes I need to exit the room to take a break. (I explain that it’s nothing to do with any particular person in the room, but about meeting my own needs. That’s important for me to say because I don’t want people to misconstrue my behaviour.) I’m fortunate to be surrounded by generally supportive people who get all of this.

I am also comfortable with putting shorter time limits on visits and gatherings and will prearrange these times with my husband. He’s very in tune with how I feel just by observing me, and he will get me out of a place if I need to leave. We’ll also do smaller gatherings to see everyone; anything over five or six people tends to be too much for me, so we do fewer of those sorts of gatherings. And since becoming aware of my SAD, my husband and I make sure that we don’t pack too much into holidays so I have plenty of breaks between seeing people. He doesn’t have SAD, but he appreciates the less busy schedule as well and tells me that he feels he now has time to appreciate the holidays.

One thing that helps me with larger gatherings is having a role other than a social one. Over the past few years, I’ve become the family photographer, so I regularly step behind my digital camera. It helps to mitigate my anxiety to some degree because I’m not just focusing on my role as a social being and the impressions I’m making on others. I wanted to throw that idea out there, of finding some other role than a social one to fill in otherwise social situations, in case it might help someone else to cope.

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