Today, Monday 18 January, is Blue Monday. In a normal year the cold and wet weather, dark nights and credit card bills landing on the door mat take a toll. This year we’re contending with the lockdown too! Feeling ‘blue’ is a perfectly healthy response.
Take a brief look around and all the advice seems to focus on how to stop feeling like this. The message I hear is ‘Do the right thing properly you won’t fee blue’. ‘Feeling fed up or low is not okay.’ So, I must be getting it wrong. If I exercised more, ate better, set clear goals, meditated properly, de-cluttered my life, got through the books on my reading list, practised yoga every morning … the list is endless … I would feel on top of the world.
But the problem is the weather is still wet and cold and it’s hard work getting up and out to walk my dog in dark when I know we’ll both come back caked in mud. It got even worse last week. Walking through a very boggy patch I increasingly became aware my foot was squelching. Yet another pair of wellingtons is leaking! Is there anyone who can get a pair to last longer than 6 months! A new pair of wellies is another cost to add to the two credit card bills that have landed – and there’s no doubt I did get a little carried away buying Christmas decorations this year.
I’m lying to myself if I pretend all this doesn’t matter or that it’s emotional impact can be counter-balanced with some positive thinking or by saying ‘pull yourself together and get on with it’. Trying to convince myself there is a quick fix just denies the reality of my experience.
Acknowledging, accepting and allowing myself to feel stressed and irritated on and off this last week has had a remarkable effect. I’ve started to feel better!
There’s no shame in feeling down. It’s not a sign of weakness, or an indicator you can’t cope. Taking some time out to notice and experience these feelings isn’t wallowing. It’s just accepting my human condition.
People often tell me that they’re frightened if they engage with the feelings, it will never end. They imagine if they allow themselves to feel low, they will spiral down, feeling lower and lower until there is no way back. But the reality is emotions come in waves. They may feel intense, but they always pass and there’s calmness in their wake.
So, my advice today, for Blue Monday, is notice and acknowledge how you feel, with no self criticism or condemnation and certainly no ‘lectures’ about what you should be doing to make everything perfect. You might be surprised how far you can go with a little acceptance.