• Dr Rachel M Allan

The Festive Illusion

The ‘happiness illusion’ is never more powerful than during the festive period. All through the year, we allow ourselves to be convinced that those around us have easier, happier, more exciting lives than we do. We scroll through posts on Facebook and Instagram and long for the homes, jobs, figures, holidays, finances or picture-perfect family lives of our acquaintances.

At Christmas time, we see adverts on the TV portraying joyous family get-togethers, children playing harmoniously, romance, joy, and celebration, in the glittering glow of the season. We compare our own lives to those images, and when our (real) lives inevitably fail to live up, we end up feeling disheartened, dejected and alone.

So we turn, once again, to our well-used strategies to build us up, and dull us down: Spending more than we can afford, engaging with relationships that are not healthy, neglecting personal boundaries, working too much, partying too much, serving others too much, hiding away, upping the ante on social media posts… What’s your poison?

Over the coming weeks, I am going to explore some of the emotional challenges that the festive period can bring, and look at ideas and strategies that may help those who are struggling find a way through the season.

I would love to know what you worry about most to do with the festive season, or to hear what you would like to see covered as part of this blog series.


© 2020 Rachel M. Allan.  Website by Yvonne Murray.  Images © Andy Allan Photography.



CPsychol, DPsych, PG Dip, MA, MBPS