by Adriana Villavicencio
People are supposed to be happy on their birthdays, right? We’re supposed to look forward to partying, opening gifts, and devouring cake the size of a piñata. But sometimes, we’re not in the mood to celebrate. Sometimes, birthdays come along with feelings of sadness, regret, and confusion as to why we’re not as cheerful as everyone else.
If you’ve ever felt less than festive on your birthday, you’re not alone. Apparently, this phenomenon is more common than you think. Personal stories of the birthday blues run rampant in the blogosphere. And according to one study published in Neurology, strokes and heart attacks are more common on birthdays: The chance of having a stroke, TIA, or heart attack on a birthday was 27% higher than the expected daily average. This is a higher rate than on other holidays, such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
The culprit for these sudden attacks is an increase in stress and anxiety, causing an inevitable spike in blood pressure. The good news is there are plenty of strategies for dealing with the Birthday Blues….and they work better than hiding in a cave until it’s over.
Don’t Resist It: Not only does resisting negative feelings or pretending they don’t exist not work, it also prolongs them. Notice it, embrace it, and know that it will pass soon. Acknowledging our feelings and allowing ourselves the time to move through them allows us to get to the other side more quickly with less angst about how you should be feeling. It might also help to recognize birthdays are not only about you. Thinking about others – your ancestors, your loved ones, and your heroes – will help put your feelings into a healthy perspective.
Look Forward: Birthdays can be reminders of all the things you haven’t accomplished, especially on those milestone birthdays – I’m 30, why don’t I have a career? I’m 40, why don’t I own a house? I’m 50, what happened to that book I was going to write? Instead of regretting what cannot be, try imagining what you can create in the future. There’s a certain excitement in letting your mind wander and explore what next year could look like. Maybe you’ll decide to write that book, finally try speed dating, or take up scuba diving in the Caribbean.
Create Small Moments of Perfection: Sometimes, the things that make us happy require little energy and even less money. Sometimes, just walking to your favorite coffee shop or listening to that special song or smelling the salt ocean air can be enough to elevate your spirits. It’s your birthday after all…do what you can to enjoy it!
Remember What It Means: A birthday doesn’t have to be a Kardashian-style extravaganza for it to have the same significance – it marks another year of life, another opportunity to celebrate the luxury of living. Don’t regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.
This B.B. King song about the birthday blues may not extinguish your mopiness, but it should certainly put a smile on your face.
To learn more about Adriana, visit The Radical Ideas.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those
of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.