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Dear Charlie: How Do I Cope With the Birthday Blues


Dear Charlie is an advice column that allows readers to ask Charlie for guidance on how to deal with problems. Whether it’s about love, friendships, or frustrations, Charlie is here to give you tips and ideas for tackling life’s everyday challenges. Readers can ask Charlie for advice through DM via our Instagram @liubknews, or anonymously through this form.

Birthdays. For some people, birthdays are full of laughter, fun with family or friends, being spoiled, and overall positive feelings. For others, the day may be tainted with dread, sadness, anger, loneliness, or other strong feelings.

If the latter sounds like you, it is important to know that you are not alone. A lot of people have mixed feelings surrounding their birthdays, and there are a few common reasons for this.

One of these feelings can be anxiety surrounding getting older and aging another year. Feelings of disappointment if you didn’t get as many gifts or as much attention you would’ve liked aren’t uncommon either.

There can also be feelings of missing out or feeling like a failure because you haven’t accomplished as many goals as you would’ve hoped by now, or because compared to your fellow friends you feel behind in life. Grief could also be a factor, if this year in particular is a year without a loved one present.

No matter the reason for birthday depression is completely valid. Luckily, I’m here to share some tips to make a bittersweet day a bit better.

Celebrate the Day the Way YOU Want

Try to refrain from feeling pressured to have big parties or to be extremely social if you don’t feel up to it.

It is understandable to feel guilty about not hanging out with friends or family, but the dread and burden of pretending to be engaged when you’re not feels even worse. Remember, you don’t owe other people any explanations for your decisions on how you would like to spend your birthday, even if that means staying in pajamas all day and binge watching Netflix.

Talk Through Your Feelings Or Journal About It

It can be helpful to vent out any frustrations or anxieties to a supportive friend or family member. They can help to validate your feelings and experiences which can help one feel less alone.

If you would rather not tell other people, simply writing down your thoughts in a sort of stream-of-consciousness writing helps to get all the negative thoughts out of your head so that you can breathe a bit easier.

Allow Yourself Space to Feel All the Things

Sometimes we can feel guilty for even experiencing sadness or anger in the first place. This guilt and shame usually ends up making you feel worse about yourself, increasing the sad feelings and creating a vicious cycle of wallowing in self-pity.

To try and avoid these feelings, it can be helpful to talk to yourself with some compassion. Telling yourself mantras such as “it’s okay to feel sad or cry,” or reminders that “these feelings are only temporary” can help to acknowledge what it is you are feeling, and help you move past it.

Recap the Year’s Accomplishments

No matter how big or small an accomplishment may seem, acknowledge it. You got up each morning, showed up to work or school on days you didn’t want to, you took care of yourself and kept yourself alive.

Remind yourself that no matter what life throws at you, you managed to persevere and make it through another year. That in itself is a feat worth celebrating, even if you think compared to other people you haven’t achieved enough.

I hope these tips make those birthday blues a bit more tolerable. Happy birthday to any Aries and Taurus who have special days coming up!

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