Yesterday was Blue Monday. I’ve been on BBC Radio Kent talking about it from a psychological perspective.
Since 2005, it’s been calculated that this is a day when we feel most gloomy, down and depressed. The party is over (Christmas and New Year – well, usually anyway). It’s dark, cold and damp. And the debts are rolling in.
Brrrrr. Well, we all have to remember that this idea was actually sparked by a travel firm wanting to make us book holidays. Yes, there is a grain of truth to the fact that deep mid-winter, post-festivities, is a tough time to endure. But it was a marketing ploy, after all.
This year, of course, the path is tougher still: nearly a whole year of privations behind us. Virus fear, Covid-fatigue, lockdowns, hand gel, masks, lack of contact and cuddles, and of course, very sadly, many deaths and losses.
We are going to have to dig deep to endure the next two months, most definitely. However, we have to remember that everything changes over time.
The first step is to recognise that the days are actually getting lighter: as of the winter solstice on 21st December, darkness is shortening daily.
The second step is to realise that spring always follows winter (as the Buddhists say), so notice any green shoots in your garden or window box, bring some green into your home, nurture just one plant if you can.
The third is to recognise the vaccine is being rolled out bigtime and it will really make a difference to us eventually this year. The news may be grim right now, and yes, the virus is scary (especially for some), but huge efforts are being made to protect the most vulnerable, which will benefit us all in the end.
So what can you do if this time is making you glum? Do one tiny thing to change things for yourself: take two minutes to declutter one drawer, tidy one corner of your home, handle one thing you have been putting off.
You can change your own mood by noting two things you have done today: even if it is just getting up, making a cuppa, having a wash. Avoid too much gloom and doom on the news and make contact with one friend.
Reaching out to another person and saying ‘hi’, in person, on email or message, can change how you feel for the day. Small things you achieve can have an incremental, mood-changing effect. Check your attitude.
And try not to slide down the snake of ‘if onlys’ and gloom and doom. Keep focused on the present, stay in the now as much as possible. Each day will get lighter, and we are moving towards a better situation. Go up the ladder of hope.
It’s only a matter of time.
Have a look at my book: Two Minutes’ Peace (Quercus), and find small exercises you can do to lift your mood during the day.
The simplest things can really make a difference, one baby step at a time.