Have you ever cried on your birthday? Ever had a persistent feeling of sensitivity or a low mood you just couldn’t shake on what was supposed to be your “special day”? Truthfully, the “birthday blues”—a kind of depression that strikes on this once-a-year occasion—are common. But we believe there are ways you can help your loved ones to avoid the worst pitfalls of this little-discussed condition.
What are the birthday blues all about?
Why do we get sad, numb, or sensitive on our birthdays? Where do these feelings come from? Isn’t it weird to feel so low on a day when people are going out of their way to celebrate you?
Fortunately, there’s a clear consensus between mental health professionals who have investigated the issue. Most of the time, this emotional funkiness is tied to the fact that a birthday is a milestone. A birthday makes us aware of the passing of time and shines a spotlight on where we’re at in our lives. For example, if you’re turning forty and you feel like a forty-year-old person’s life should look a certain way, what if yours doesn’t? What if you don’t have the career, the relationship, the family, the body, the name-the-accomplishment that you associate with forty-year-olds?
Of course, birthdays shine spotlights on our relationships too—past and present. What if, in the past, your birthday was a time when you became painfully aware of how few friendships you had? Or what if your current-day relationships are not what you wish they were? In this scenario, seeing that reflected in the attention that you receive—or don’t receive—from loved ones will be challenging.
Basically, birthday depression is about the disappointments associated with relationships and accomplishments. Knowing that, what can you do to make your loved ones less likely to feel this way?
As professional special occasion people, we have ideas!
How to keep your loved ones’ birthday blues at bay
Make an effort
This might sound obvious, but making the effort makes the difference. Knowing that the birthday blues are often connected with relationship disappointment, doing what you can to make the occasion special goes a long way. And hey! There are pretty darn simple ways to make this happen—we built a business around it. It’s so fast and easy to just send a birthday gift basket.
Reflect what’s valuable, admirable, and unique about them
Most of us are sensitive to what we have and haven’t accomplished when milestones like birthdays occur. So, why not use a loved one’s birthday to send a message about just how incredible their life is, just the way it is? Think creatively about what your friend or family member has accomplished and find a gift that reflects that. For example, if we were assembling a birthday gift basket for someone who has poured their heart into cooking, we’d fill it with artisanal foods. Include a card that expresses the pride and admiration you feel for the specific ways that your loved one has enriched their own life.
Good luck…and remember that expressing your love through giving is always worth it!