Sing Away Your Holiday Blues

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.

gospel singer

Singing your sorrows away.

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.

2 thoughts on “Sing Away Your Holiday Blues

  1. Thanks for this posting. I was happy to find this blog entry after googling something to the effect of “the possibility of singing in a choir while working in BigLaw”. I’m a recent law school grad who found out much too late that I’m not the “lawyer type”. I also recently realized how important singing is to me as a hobby. Considering how BigLaw associates say they don’t even have time for one hobby, I’m worried that I won’t be able to do the one thing that I think will keep me (somewhat) sane when I start at the firm. I’ve been looking at other job options instead of the firm, but they’re kind of hard to come by in this economy…

    In any case, I was curious as to whether you were able to have time for a choir while you were at a firm and if you think someone like me–a low-level associate in BigLaw–would have time to squeeze in once-a-week rehearsal?

  2. Keeping in mind that I practiced in the 90s—yanno, the Jurassic—I did have time for 1 hobby, which was much more time-intensive than choir: horseback riding.

    I think the bigger question here is how do you plan on keeping your sanity if you *don’t* make some down time a priority? Your work will suffer if you don’t get away from it regularly, trust me.

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