If you’re of a certain age and musical background, you may also have read the title and felt New Order’s type writer drum machine beat start in your head. Here’s a link if you fancy a listen – I may have written the first chunk of this blog while it played in the background 😉
But this isn’t about classic 80s tunes. It’s about life getting on top of you and how to dig yourself out again.
(If you’re not feeling like reading much, scroll down to the TOP TIP heading and go watch Kristina’s video. It could change your life Xx)
So what is Blue Monday?
The Scotsman summed up the concept of Blue Monday pretty beautifully:
Monday 18 January marks ‘Blue Monday’, the most depressing day of the year. It’s the day when the financial pressure of the Christmas just passed hangs over us most, the weather is at its worst, and the extra pounds we’ve acquired over the holiday season are proving harder to shift than we anticipated.
Of course, there are those who say it’s all just made up, and it might be, but I wanted to write this to say to anybody else feeling crappy that you are not alone.
Have you had a “worst day of the year”?
For me, it was on Thursday. Having held it together pretty well over the ten months since the first lockdown began in the UK, I lost my shit. We had a sequence of tech failures with our interface of Teams no longer having any teams on it… so we logged out to go back in and then I couldn’t find our login information… then we couldn’t get into the live English lesson on Zoom (despite using the same details that had worked before, and that worked again on Friday!!) and then the printer started having a bad hair day.
It felt as if all of the uncertainty and powerlessness of the previous ten months had condensed into one intensely pressurised hour.
There may have been a few noisy releases, and one of the fifty piles of charity shop donations that have been breeding all over my house may have taken a kicking.
I released the acute stress that way, then I took some deep breaths and focussed only on the things I could do.
Tilly had an art lesson to complete and I know how good creativity is for me, so we sat down and painted. By the time my “house alone in stormy sky” was complete, I felt better.
You’re absolutely not alone if you’re struggling
I posted about it on instagram and one of my friends replied that as a teacher it had been the single worst day she could remember for complaints about systems failing and it being too hard.
Last night another friend posted that she was as low as she could ever remember feeling.
The pressure is getting to us all. The fact that we have a “Blue Monday” in the calendar is probably coincidental, but it provides a good reminder that we all need to look after ourselves, and each other.
So what can we do when it all gets too much?
1. Acknowledge it’s all getting to be too much. If we try to convince ourselves that we can handle it, we just keep taking on more, and that’s not a good plan.
2. “Step away from the vehicle”. If you can get a complete change of scenery, like by going outside, do it. If you can only go as far as the next room, do it.
3. Let it out. For some people crying is the best way of releasing the build up, for others it’s running or kicking inanimate objects that feel no pain and won’t break your toes. (Side note: if you have a pile of cardboard boxes that need recycling, they are EXCELLENT for kicking when stressed and then you can squash them and put them out.)
4. Talk about it. Call a friend, call your mum, call one of the counselling lines. Talk it out. It’s amazing how much easier it is to let go of stuff once you’ve verbalised it.
5. Wrap yourself up in a cuddle. Depending on your circumstances, this could be from a friend/partner/housemate/child or it could be from the warm water in a bubble bath, a snuggly blanket or a meditation. Having been through an intense episode and then released it, you may feel vulnerable, tired and or cold. Look after that feeling.
6. The most effective Self Care is preventative. Cover your basic needs every single day, and then build upon them. Your body needs nourishment, hydration, rest and movement. Your mind needs the same treatment. Sleep is crucial.
7. What we focus on, we get more of. Our mindset is usually what makes the difference between calmly working through our days or hiding under the duvet. You may have heard of the “Attitude of Gratitude”? Finding things to be grateful for, even on the toughest of days, can help to resize our problems.
Here is the Top Tip
Kristina Kuzmic posted an incredible video a few years ago where she talked about how she’d been commited to writing down something she was grateful for every single day that had happened in that specific day, and then she had a miscarriage. She revisited that video at the end of 2019 – I heartily recommend you watch the first 8 minutes of the linked FB live – as she explains how she reprogrammed her pessimism.
Back in 2009, I received a recommendation to start writing down 10 things I was grateful for before I went to bed. Having developed this habit, it was then suggested that I read them when I woke up, to set my mind up to look for good things all day. To begin with, I found it immensely helpful, and then it got very repetitive. Unsurprisingly, I stopped.
Last summer I started the Totally Awesome Happiness Challenge. For several months, I posted almost every day. Then work got ridiculously busy and I didn’t have a fun photo for each day and posting became sporadic. Eventually I stopped. Kristina’s method of writing one specific thing that happened that day appeals to me immensely.
I am committing to start the Kristina method tonight. Who’s with me?
Until next week Xx
PS if you would like my blog delivered to your inbox each week, please sign up here.