Last Monday was apparently blue Monday. This according to the media is something to do with it being the middle Monday of January, and with January being after Christmas and that it can be financially challenging, on top of that it is cold and dark. To me this notion that there is one day that is more miserable than any other seems slightly ridiculous and even feels quite manipulative. For many January can be a challenging month, then again so can December, February, March, April, May….. you get the drift.
The blues don’t wait for a particular day, the blues don’t just appear for certain events, or reasons. In fact sometimes the blues do not need much of a reason at all (well not that you can put your finger on anyway). To be honest that is sort of irrelevant. It is more important to accept that we will have days or moments when we feel low, fed up, or really sad. Sometimes there will be an obvious reason, sometimes that reason might not be so obvious, but you will feel like this.
What is important to remember is that emotions are not static they are constantly moving and shifting, just like the weather. One moment the sun is shining, the next it is pouring down. One thing is for certain, it will be sunny, and it will be cloudy, but it will not stay completely the same and the sun will come out again. Even when the clouds are their thickest the sun is still there behind the clouds and will breakthrough.
When we are under a cloud and experiencing negative emotion, it is really important not to deny it. Negative emotion is an important inevitable part of life, it helps us grow and learn. Therefore make space for it in your mind, pay it attention, and understand it, and try to give it a name. Understand why you might be feeling it, and what you can learn from it. When we try to deny our negative emotions, those emotions are multiplied as we feel bad about feeling bad. We often apologise for expressing our negative emotion, this is rarely helpful (that is unless your emotion has caused to be uncivil, then you really should apologise). Understanding and articulating your emotion will help, it will not make it go away but it will diminish it’s impact and help you recover and appreciate the positive emotion when that returns.
The key to happiness is not being wonderfully happy all the time, it is learning to be curious about your emotions and accepting and embracing all the good and bad. I now find it helpful thinking in terms of helpful and hindering (after spending a few days with Andy Gilbert and his GOMAD team). Some emotions whether they are positive or negative will be helpful to me and some emotions will be hindering. Having a good cry when thinking about something sad can be very helpful to me and help me sort out my thoughts about an issue, whereas staying in at home watching boxsets makes me feel happy but is hindering as I will never get anything done. They are crude examples but you get the idea. Emotions are important, however you need to decide if responding to them in a certain way is helpful or hindering.
If you are having a blue day, don’t try to avoid it, try to understand it. Pay attention to your negative emotions they might be telling you something important.