Blue Monday is a controversial day of the year, but it's not just any day; it's deemed "the most depressing day of the year." It arrives on the third Monday in January, which will fall on January 17, 2022.
A case of the Blue Mondays can strike anyone due to a mix of mood and weather. Attributed to the end of the holiday season, the lingering dreary weather, and the long, dark nights. Or perhaps the leftover bills of Christmas extravagance and New Year's resolutions that haven't lasted more than three weeks.
Regardless of whether you believe it is or isn't the most miserable day of the year, if it gives you a reason to prioritize yourself and self-care—you'll more than likely take the offer. So if you're having a case of the Blue Mondays, or any Monday, we've got some helpful ideas for you.
#1: Ask yourself, "Is this really true?"
I've lost count of the number of times my anxiety has gotten the best of me. I enter a state of mindfulness by asking myself this question, or a variation of it: "Is this my anxiety, or is this the truth?"
Then, by stacking lies on one side and truths on the other, I build unbiased "imaginary scales." This basic strategy has never failed me, and I've discovered that my anxiety isn't just a source of stress—it's also a liar.
#2: On Blue Monday, Take a Mental Health Day
Mental health should be a top priority in everyone's life, regardless of age or circumstance. Here's permission to take the day off. Especially if your day is going south and you already feel like you can't deal with it as you typically would. Take the day off from dishes, laundry, unwelcome conversations, or whatever it is that you don't want to deal with. So be it if you're going to spend the next five hours in your pajamas watching movies. You have every right to that comfort zone for the next 24 hours.
#3: Take a Bath
This isn't just any old bath; we're talking about a beautifully drawn bath—one with bubbles, candles, and perhaps some delicious chocolate. Relax in solitude while listening to classical music or nothing at all. Unless you want to go all out, you don't need anything extravagant. Allow the warm water to hug you until you've had enough.
#4: Debt Snowball
Everyone has to deal with blue Monday if it's truly about the end of the Christmas season and months of bills. Sweeping it under the rug will not make you feel any better, and it's important not to suppress your stress, no matter how insignificant you believe it is.
If you overspent this holiday season, let's bring your debts under control with the debt snowball. It works like this: you pay off your debts in order of their size, from the smallest to the largest. After you've paid off the first amount, you'll go on to the next smallest. While making minimum monthly payments on the others, anything you paid toward the now-paid-off balance rolls over to the next debt. Continue doing so until you've paid off all of your Christmas debt.
#5: Remove the Overindulgences
If you're like most of us, you've been overindulging from October until January. And after a while, all this excess bogs us down and eats away at your energy. That is not helpful for anyone's psyche.
It's been said that it takes 28 days to form a habit, and if that's true, you're far past the point, and now exist in habit land. So, how do you get rid of it? You'll start the same way you did in October, but this time with premium fuel, and you'll keep going until you've changed your eating habits for the better.
Additional Reading: How to Make or Break a Habit
Mindfulness has become even more popular since the pandemic, and for a good reason: it works. It would not have survived for centuries if it didn't.
You may be feeling down and need some time to refocus. You can accomplish this in a variety of ways, including meditation, yoga, or just by repeating affirmations to yourself or out loud. The following are five positive affirmations you can say to yourself throughout the day:
1. I am worthy
2. Today is going to be a great day
3. I am enough
4. I am important
5. I am loved
Positive affirmations work by helping to change your negative thought patterns. Be mindful of what you say to yourself. If you say something negative about yourself, gently replace it with something positive.
#7: Make a Mess of the Kitchen
Do you ever have those moments when you're using every pot and pan you own to make an incredible meal? That's exactly what you're going to do. Begin chopping, stirring, and mincing while listening to music you enjoy and get carried away with your culinary creativity.
Cooking can divert your attention away from your current situation and toward a beautifully finished product. Light a few candles and treat yourself to a candlelit dinner—and leave the dishes until tomorrow.
#8: Go For a Drive
I can't begin to tell you how many miles I've driven to find clarity. Or maybe I can—nearly 120,000 worth. When I'm feeling my absolute worst, I open the door of my mobile psychiatrist, who has everything I need: windows that go down and music that goes up. And I set off for an undetermined destination. Sometimes it's a short jaunt around the city or a three-hour drive.
I get it, it's winter, and the weather isn't ideal. But my results have always been the same—greater clarity and calm by the time I pull into the driveway. The layers are peeled away, with each passing landmark providing me a chance to reconstruct.
But it's not just me. Research shows that driving does work because your brain has to focus on driving when you're in a car (obviously). While on a cruise, your brain focuses on that task while also providing you space for opportunities to problem-solve.
In the past, I told my loved ones not to cry when they were hurting because I hated seeing them cry. It hurt me to see them hurting. Little did I know, every time I would say, "Please don't cry," I was robbing them of every therapeutic opportunity.
For more than a decade, I have been open and accepting of every emotion, and today I strongly encourage a good cry. Anyone who comes to me or starts to cry will find my shoulder the first place to turn. The "don't cry" sentiments have been exchanged for "Let it out, you're safe, and it's okay."
According to one study, crying acts as a self-soothing method by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you relax.
It's important to note that depression is another category of pain outside of a good cry.
However, when you feel frustrated or hit with a sudden case of sadness, follow your emotions and release them. Go to a closet, a private area, or be with someone you trust. Do whatever it is that makes you feel comfortable to get it all out. You'll be pleasantly surprised by how therapeutic crying is.
#10: Be With People You Like
Catchphrase—like. Prepare ahead of time by asking your friends and family if they'd like to meet up after work or at a time that works best for everyone. And then make the most of it.
Over a healthy dinner, laugh, play games, share memories, or simply enjoy each other's company. Discuss topics that will make you and everyone else feel happy. Being around individuals who elevate your spirits does two things: it gives you a better outlook, and it gives them one as well.
Be yourself and focus on the time you have together. Outside of emergent phone calls, put away phones and anything else that could be distracting. All of those dings, bells, and alerts are helpful during the day, but we're going to use this time to unwind and recharge.
Blue Monday doesn't have to be a day to hide under the covers or dread. You can choose to appreciate this day, like any other, rather than surrendering to the pre-programmed sadness that someone invented as a senseless equation to prove something. Prove something else for yourself and those around you.
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