So how was Blue Monday for you?
Every year since 2005 there has been one Monday on either the 2nd, 3rd or 4th week in January that has been dubbed ‘Blue Monday’.
The exact date is based on a combination of factors that are then placed into a formula and the date is then generated. Weather; monthly salary; time since Christmas; time since the New Year’s Resolution got broken; debt; low motivational levels and the awareness of wanting to take action, to make a change, are all elements taken into consideration and the outcome is the exact date that people in general are feeling at their lowest, or so we are to believe.
Something to bear in mind is that originally this formula was created as part of an advertising campaign for a holiday company, thus selling dreams and hopes for an upcoming year and giving many people a reason to just keep going.
What you choose to believe about ‘Blue Monday’ is for you to decide, however something to bear in mind is the communication that it creates. How many people today turned to their co-workers, friends, family and people at the bus stop and spoke about how they were experiencing life at the moment, on this day. How important were those conversations for all the people involved regardless of whether they will even see those others again. What the day creates is an environment that encourages openness, a chance to share how difficult things might be and in turn experience a little less isolation and loneliness. It is often in the smallest of gestures that people can find purpose and strength enough to go on.
For some, feeling ‘Blue’ at any time of the year, can linger and develop into a more serious depression, maybe today is a reminder to just gently check in. To ask yourself “How am I feeling” to reflect upon how you are coping with the ups and downs of general life. Does it feel like something you are winning at, muddling through with forward momentum, barely keeping your head up, not something you want to be a part of right now? How would you describe your journey over the last few months?
Depression is described as having a loss of interest in the things around you, even the things you once enjoyed, you may no longer feel motivated to do. It is a feeling of sadness that long outlives general events that becomes a constant heaviness. When life creates difficult situations, it’s normal to feel sad or depressed for a while, but then often this is followed by change and an emotional improvement.
There are things that you can do to help you feel better,
- Talk to someone, anyone that is genuinely listening and hearing what you are saying, depression is so much more dangerous if experienced with isolation. You may have friends or family that you can reach out to, or you could get in touch with some local groups or activities and begin to meet new people. Samaritans offer a 24 hour service and you don’t need to feel suicidal to call them. Free Call to 116 123
- Try to get outside, even if it’s cold and wet, just take a walk for 30 minutes, take notice of your environment, what can you see, hear, smell and touch? Lay out some warm dry clothes for when you return, warm yourself back up with a hot drink.
- Try not to avoid things that are feeling difficult, set yourself a realistic goal, even if it’s one thing a day, complete that thing, and give yourself a reward. And when you are ready, can you conquer 2 things. It probably didn’t take one bad day to be where you are, it’s unlikely to take 1 good day to get you out, but it’s a start and a reminder that you can.
- Feed your body, you may have lost your appetite or you may be overeating or anywhere in between, but your body does require food, it doesn’t have to be 3 meals a day, it can be little and often if it helps. The healthier the food that you eat, the better your body will feel but don’t get tied up on that if it’s a barrier, any food is better than none in keeping your energy levels up. If you are overeating, if possible try to lessen the amounts, too much food can contribute to feeling sleepy and having no energy.
- Sleep, you may find yourself sleeping more or less than usual, it can be helpful to set yourself a routine whereby you get up at the same time each day, avoid caffeine in the later parts of the day, try not to nap during the day and wind down in the evening with some relaxing activities before bed. If you find that you are waking up during the night, only lay awake for about 30 mins, if you can’t get back to sleep try some mindfulness or other forms of relaxation and then try to return to bed.
- Negative and unhelpful thought patterns, these can be tricky to not get tangled up in, especially when you are trying to sleep. So try to write your thoughts down, challenge whether your thoughts are being helpful or unhelpful. If you focus on just feeling bad, you will just feel bad. That’s not to say that focusing on wanting to feel happier will make that happen, but it then becomes a goal, something to work towards. You can do this by writing down things that have made you happy in the past, people that you love and care for, places that you’ve been, things that you have done. Then consider, what might you like to do in the future, break it down into small steps, how can you achieve your goal? The most important thing to remember is that you didn’t choose to feel the way that you feel, so if you have one of those voices that tells you to snap out of it and then berates you for not succeeding, try to introduce some compassion, whatever emotions you are experiencing, they are yours and therefor very precious. No one ever felt better by being shouted at, so be gentle with yourself and agree that for now this is how you feel and move towards the things that help you to feel better.
There is an amazing video made by the World Health Organisation and it is called the Black Dog, take a look at the link below:
In 2017 there were 3 million people in the UK diagnosed with depression, for every man that is diagnosed with depression, there are 2 women also struggling with depression. It is supposed that 1 in 10 adults will experience at least one depressive episode in their lifetime, and for many people there is a 50% chance that the condition will return. These are formidable facts and they show how common depression can be, so if you have read this blog, watched the black dog video and recognise what is being described as something you are experiencing, then talk to someone. If you want it to be confidential, then approaching a counsellor, GP, or Samaritans can offer you that. Talk to friends or family, let them help you by telling them what you need.
If you live in Plymouth and would like to work with a counsellor, then contact us https://centredcounselling.com
Cover image courtesy of: