This time of year can be hard. Preparing for the big C (Consumerfest—what, you thought I meant Christmas?) stresses many people out both logistically and financially. And then there’s the whole emotional baggage aspect of it. Not to mention, the short days and limited amounts of light that accompanies winter.
And if you’re in a law job that makes you miserable? Yeah, not such an awesome time of year.
So here’s a trick to lift your spirits: sing. Out loud. Really. As in, go caroling, go to a Christmas service, or serenade your family/ friends/pets.
Singing is powerful magic. Just ask the slaves in the South, who created glorious gospel music, full of joy and hope, in the midst of grinding misery and oppression.
You would think that I would remember this, since I sing every week in a choir. But I forget. And this past Monday, I was dragging a doom cloud around, a sunflower wilting from lack of light during the dark of the solstice time.
Fortunately, we had our final rehearsal, with instruments, for Christmas Eve service. And after 2 hours solid of singing, my funk had departed. It’s hard to focus on your own gloom and doom when you’re concentrating on notes, entrances, rhythym and what other people are singing and playing.
That’s really the key about singing—it gets you out of your head and somewhere else. It’s an active meditation, and it’s worked for humanity for thousands of years. Whether or not you have an iota of musical talent, pouring yourself into music puts you in a different dimension. It’s a restorative place to visit for 20 minutes, and does an amazing job of putting the kibosh on a snarly mood.
The kind of music you sing really doesn’t matter. If you’re into Christmas, you can choose anything from tacky to sacred and still get your Christmas music fix. If Christmas music brings you down, pick something else. Blues, rock, country, folk, Celtic—it doesn’t matter what the music is, it just matters that you like it and that you sing.
Put your heart into it. I like singing in groups, but if that freaks you out, sing solo. Sing in your car if you’re worried that the shower isn’t private enough. Concentrate only on the music (and the traffic, if you’re driving!).
If you know that seeing certain relatives or friends triggers a black mood, plan some singing time. If you’re in for a several-day visit, plan a little session every day. If it’s a few-hour visit, then sing as soon as possible after you see the offending party. Sing to banish their darkness so it doesn’t infect you.
Being purposeful in bringing good things into your life will help you weather the holidays, and your imperfect work life, too.
Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who coaches attorney on finding joy in life and work. If you’re ready to explore some lasting changes, Jennifer offers free sample sessions of coaching. Contact her at jalvey AT jenniferalvey.com to set yours up.