OET Skills (Grammar) “Confronting Holiday Blues”

Shape Image One
OET Skills (Grammar) “Confronting Holiday Blues”

Practice intensifiers in English grammar. Skills needed for the OET Speaking

For many, Christmas and New Year are anticipated with fascination. Society and seasonal melodies say we should be cheerful, celebrating, and cooking perfect – and huge – meals.  Truthfully, even with the stress of planning and gift buying, many consider it to be a happy time.

But many don’t. The holidays can be melancholy, the days or weeks after the holidays. One 2019 UK survey found just over 30% of British people felt anxious or stressed as the holidays approached, and even more worried about the mental health of someone they knew. Holiday depression and anxiety were found to be associated with e.g. unemployment, divorce, widowhood, and even being parents with small children at home (Mental Health).

The pandemic has not helped the situation. Lockdowns (in some EU countries) led to Christmas burnout, financial stress, social anxiety, and physical and mental exhaustion () by the time the holidays arrived, and afterward. Moreover, no snow due to global warming and the inability to make a snowman or throw snowballs furthered sadness.

ith media images often include a loud-and-laughing houseful of the family as part of a “Merry Christmas”, it is no wonder that many feel lonely around the holidays if they have lost a loved one.

A few forum comments paint the picture:

  • I hate every second of Christmas
  • Christmas used to be my favorite time of the year and yeah, on Christmas day in the evening I would get a bit sad. However, now I’m starting to dislike Christmas more and more. It’s getting frustrating and my in-laws are a nightmare to deal with. I spend Christmas depressed since my side of the family basically doesn’t exist anymore…” (Free Care & Therapy).

These are commonly called the “holiday blues” and are far from unusual [Ibid].

Then comes the “post-holiday blues” – the slump after the season ends. Experts attribute it to stress hormones leaving the body, with the body and psyche struggling to get back to routine (Libby MacCarthy). As a few forum comments describe the feeling:

  • Start to feel it after I finish taking down the lights and decorations on the 2nd of January and take a look around at the bare walls and fixtures that once were brimming with color and life. But then I get used to that bare feeling after a couple of days
  • Christmas Day marks the end of Christmas, so it makes sense to be sad. Christmas is more the season than the day so I try to enjoy it most in the run-up to today
  • Christmas evening is always depressing. The next week is the worst week of the year

For those living in northern climates, there is additionally seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a clinical depression caused by shorter days, less sunlight and vitamin D, more melatonin, and less serotonin. All these factors together can result in a holiday season that can, for some, be a season of:

  • Poor eating habits
  • Changed sleep patterns
  • Depression and irritability
  • Guilt and worthless feelings
  • Anxiety and worry
  • Poor focus and apathy

Fortunately, there is self-help and professional help. Tips suggested by Lancer can improve your state:

  • Make time to rest even amidst the pressure of getting things done. Taking an hour or a day for yourself, or being “non-traditional” and getting away from it all. Travelling might help you come back relaxed and refreshed.
  • Treat yourself. It could be to a warm bath and a cup of hot tea or getting yourself something special.
  • Exercise and journaling distract the mind and promote creativity…and keep your mind busy and productive.
  • Instead of struggling to buy a gift you can’t afford, let your loved ones know how much you care and would like to, but can’t afford it. That intimate moment will nourish you both.
  • Lower your expectation for yourself. Commit to one or two get-togethers only. This takes some of the stress off you and allows you to time alone to reflect and grieve, if necessary. Grieving is a natural process – let yourself feel (Kristen Fuller).
  • Avoid people who stress you the most. This might not be easy when it is a family member or in-law! But ask yourself and perhaps your partner, “Is it helpful to stress myself out by being around this person?” If the answer is no, be good to yourself and avoid them.
  • If you don’t have someone to be with, volunteer to help those in need. It can be very uplifting and gratifying (Deutsche Welle).
  • Sometimes, it is necessary to talk to a professional. Don’t be afraid or ashamed. This could be the key to emerging in a healthier mental condition…and not only for the season.

Help in preparing for OET

Replace the 13 black circles in the text with the most suitable language intensifier from the table below. Then read your text again to see how the text became more expressive and emotional.

incredibly definitely totally
actually moderately deeply
particularly just certainly
perfectly especially strongly
very
Answers:
  1. Society and seasonal melodies say we should be cheerful, celebrating, and cooking perfect – and perfectly huge – meals.
  2. Truthfully, even with the stress of planning and gift buying, many consider it to be a very happy time.
  3. But many don’t. The holidays can be melancholy, especially the days or weeks after the holidays.
  4. Holiday depression and anxiety were found to be strongly associated with e.g., unemployment, divorce, widowhood, and even being parents with small children at home.
  5. The pandemic certainly has not helped the situation.
  6. With media images often including a loud-and-laughing houseful of a family as part of a “Merry Christmas”, it is no wonder that many feel deeply lonely …
  7. … around the holidays, particularly if they have lost a loved one.
  8. All these factors together can result in a holiday season that can, for some, be definitely a season of …
  9. Taking just an hour or a day for yourself…
  10. … and actually getting away from it all.
  11. Lower your expectation for yourself moderately.
  12. “Is it helpful to totally stress myself out by being around this person?”
  13. It can be very incredibly uplifting and gratifying.

    Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    2 Comments

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.