FROM THE SCEPTICAL POTBOILER:
It’s proven that moods tend to dip during the festive season, and inch their way towards positivity and sheer (manic) euphoria on December 31st. Just as countdown party fireworks continue to bedazzle die-hard spectators, hope always appears in the form of present year reflections, New Year resolutions, self-motivation, and best wishes for family and friends. Because God forbid we offer something negative in the spirit of the holidays.
So what happens when you end up down in the dumps during the festive season? You find ways to make it work – maybe with booze, exercise (yes, the sceptical potboiler CAN work out), mindfulness or meditation, arson… If your predicament was somewhat similar to mine – where I fell ill, couldn’t attend parties, and spent four miserable days in bed – I hope you managed, and I’m glad you survived!
I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but if you ever do feel sad during the holidays, here are three really simple and free ways to relieve FDIDD (Festive Down in Da Dumps):
- Find another species
If you’re anything like The Sceptical Potboiler and often find interaction with humans overwhelming, opt for interaction with a different species. I have a personal preference for cats and certain dogs, but some friends swear by birds, fish, and guinea pigs. I recently learnt that guinea pigs are in fact similar to dogs, can be trained, and may recognise your voice. Such sweetness, don’t you think? While I don’t quite understand the fascination with fish (I prefer Soon Hock, Teo Chew style), I hear talking to them for a couple of minutes each day can ease anxiety in some people. And there are plants – flowers, trees and whatnot, if animals aren’t your thing (for whatever lame-ass reason). Check out this fascinating list of tree-related superstitions across the world. And here’s something about the Banyan Tree from Singapore.
- Chat with chat bots
Chat bots are little computer robots that mimic conversation, and are commonly used for customer/visitor enquiries or automated services. The Guardian has a nice, relatively short article on chat bots here. The week I was bedridden, I went on a chat bot massacre – or discovery, if you will – jumping from website to website, trying to differentiate artificial intelligence (AI) from real human being. Apparently it was really easy to tell. I will admit now that prior to this, I didn’t know many chat bots were AI. Perhaps it had something to do with the way many websites have a minimised (or irritating pop-up) bar in the corner indicating they are “live” and ready for a chat. Can’t blame the lonely eager beaver for trying, can we?
- Read user-generated masterpieces
Specifically, Reddit’s Writing Prompts subreddit. I particularly loved this prompt on NASA discovering a cat that’s been on the ISS for years. Hairpin has a Love Actually series detailing what happened to different couples a decade after the movie was aired. And there’s this unforgettable Calvin and Hobbes heartbreaker (from 2014) where Calvin has a final talk with Hobbes in the last moments of his life. Tears.
- Walk in the park
Yes, it’s that easy. A short walk does wonders. Some people I know will shun outdoor activities in Singapore because it is – insert excuse – but we have beautiful parks and park connectors now. Worth checking out, especially if you’re feeling glass completely empty. There is some beauty left in the world, buttercup.
- Fill the glass
When everything else fails, there is alcohol. Early in 2016 I decided enough was enough; I had to see what the red wine hype was. A year later and I am officially a convert. While I appreciate an ice cold beer, smooth Guinness draft, or single-malt whisky anytime, I’m thankful I’ve found my go-to red wine (apparently very affordable) and am always open to trying more. It’s good for health in moderate amounts too, according to the LEGIT Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry published by Medical Daily. I read somewhere – however accurate – that a glass of red wine is equivalent to an hour at the gym. Think of how much exercise you’re getting with a whole bottle to yourself.
This concludes my first entry. The Sceptical Potboiler wishes you all the best this year and will not be responsible for any repercussions caused by her well intentions.