Today Is Just Another Day
Don't Get Blue-Washed!
Blue Monday, often referred to as the most depressing day of the year, usually falls on the third Monday of January. It's a time when the festive cheer has faded, the nights are long and dark, and for many, financial strains and the pressures of New Year resolutions are at their peak. Indeed, the concept of Blue Monday, though not scientifically substantiated, reflects a general sentiment that many people feel a dip in their mood around this time.
However, it's essential to recognise that this idea, while capturing a common feeling, is not an inevitability. The notion of Blue Monday originated more from a marketing strategy than from psychological research. It's crucial to understand that while external factors such as post-holiday blues, cold weather, and financial concerns can influence our mood, they don't dictate it.
For those in early recovery from addiction, or even with long-term abstinence and engaged in 12-step fellowships, this period can be particularly challenging. It's vital to lean into the tools and support networks that have been instrumental in our journeys. This means actively engaging with our programs, seeking connection, and avoiding isolation. Remember, every day, including Blue Monday, is an opportunity to practice the principles of recovery.
it's important to delve deeper into the idea that our emotions, particularly around Blue Monday, are not entirely under the control of external factors. Yes, the post-holiday season can be challenging, but it's crucial to remember that our response to these challenges is within our control. This perspective is empowering and liberating, offering us the opportunity to approach the day (and indeed, any day) with a proactive mindset.
Blue Monday is largely a social construct. Although the concept is often thought to originate from a travel company's marketing campaign, the concept of Blue Monday was actually formulated by psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall, who considered factors like average temperature, days elapsed since December's last payday, the time until the next public holiday, daylight hours, and the frequency of nights spent indoors. He introduced this idea about 20 years ago, coinciding with the third Monday of January, with an intention not to highlight despair but to inspire a positive outlook. Dr. Arnall viewed this time as an opportunity for new beginnings and change. However, over the years, the concept has taken on a more negative tone, becoming emblematic of the general gloominess often associated with January.
It has also been perpetuated by the media and marketing industries as another date in the diary to focus on. This is a stark reminder of how societal narratives can shape our emotions and expectations. However, acknowledging this gives us power. It allows us to step back and question whether we're feeling down because of our own genuine emotions or because we've been told that's how we should feel.
Understanding the origins of Blue Monday can be the first step in resisting its pull. We can choose to reframe our thinking and approach the day with a different attitude. Instead of viewing it as the most depressing day of the year, we can see it as any other day, with its unique challenges and opportunities.
The key is to acknowledge our feelings without letting external narratives define our experience. While we can't change the past or control the future, we can make choices about how we live today. This approach aligns with the philosophy of 12-step programs, which emphasizes the importance of focusing on the present moment and recognizing that we only have control over our actions and attitudes today.
If you're struggling with resolutions or feeling overwhelmed, it's important to remember that change is a continuous process, not confined to a specific day or time of year. Every day is a new opportunity to make choices that align with your values and goals.
There's a lovely reading used frequently in the 12 Steps fellowship that goes like this:
There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.
One of these days is YESTERDAY with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. YESTERDAY has passed forever beyond our control.
All the money in the world cannot bring back YESTERDAY. We cannot undo a single act we performed; we cannot erase a single word we said. YESTERDAY is gone.
The other day we should not worry about is TOMORROW with its possible adversaries, its burdens, its large promise and poor performance. TOMORROW is also beyond our immediate control.
Tomorrow's sun will rise, either in splendour or behind a mask of clouds -- but it will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow for it is as yet unborn.
This leaves only one day -- Today -. Anyone can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities--YESTERDAY and TOMORROW that we break down.
It is not the Experience of Today that drives people mad -- it is remorse or bitterness for something which happened Yesterday and the dread of what Tomorrow may bring.
Let us, therefore, live but one day at a time.
In conclusion, while the concept of Blue Monday resonates with many, it's not a fixed reality. It's a reminder to check in with ourselves, acknowledge our feelings, and make conscious choices about how we respond. Whether you're in recovery or simply navigating the challenges of this time of year, remember that support is available, and every day is a new chance to live according to your principles and values. Let's not get "bluewashed" - Monday is just another day.
10 Tips to Avoid Getting Sucked into Blue Monday:
1. Practice Mindfulness: Engage in mindfulness exercises or meditation to stay present and avoid dwelling on past holiday experiences or future anxieties.
2. Stay Active: Exercise can boost your mood. Go for a walk, hit the gym, or try a home workout. Physical activity is a proven mood enhancer.
3. Connect with Others: Reach out to friends or family members. Social interaction, even if it's just a phone call or a coffee meet-up, can be incredibly uplifting.
4. Pursue a Hobby: Engage in activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good. Whether it's reading, painting, cooking, or gardening, hobbies can provide a positive focus.
5. Volunteer: Helping others can improve your mood and give you a sense of purpose. Look for local volunteering opportunities.
6. Limit Social Media and News Consumption: These can often amplify negative feelings. Choose to engage in uplifting content if you do browse.
7. Practice Gratitude: Write down things you’re grateful for. Gratitude can shift your focus from what’s lacking to what’s abundant in your life.
8. Plan Something Enjoyable: Having something to look forward to can be a great mood booster. Plan a trip, a special meal, or a get-together with friends.
9. Get Adequate Rest: Ensure you're well-rested. Sleep plays a vital role in your mood and overall mental health.
10. Seek Professional Support if Needed: If you find yourself struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for guidance and support.
By implementing these tips, we can take control of our well-being and reject the notion that our emotions are at the mercy of a specific day or external narratives. It's about empowering ourselves to make choices that enhance our well-being, irrespective of what the calendar says. Remember, Blue Monday is just another day, and like any other day, it's an opportunity to live life to the fullest, guided by our values and choices.
For those in 12-step recovery programs, navigating challenging days like Blue Monday can be particularly important. Here are 10 tips specifically tailored for individuals in recovery to help manage such days:
1. Attend a Meeting: Whether it's an in-person or an online meeting, connecting with your 12-step group can provide essential support and remind you that you're not alone.
2. Reach Out to Your Sponsor: If you're feeling low or tempted, a call or meeting with your sponsor can provide the guidance and perspective you need.
3. Practice the Daily Reflections: Many recovery programs recommend daily readings or reflections. Dedicate time to this practice, especially on tough days.
4. Work on a Step: Focusing on the step you're currently working on can be a great way to redirect your thoughts and energy.
5. Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you process them more effectively. Reflect on your progress, your challenges, and your goals in recovery.
6. Engage in Service Work: Helping others in your recovery community can boost your mood and reinforce your own commitment to sobriety.
7. Practice Gratitude: Make a list of things you’re grateful for in your recovery journey. Gratitude can shift your mindset from scarcity to abundance.
8. Stay Connected with Recovery Peers: Arrange to spend time with friends from your recovery circle. Mutual support is a cornerstone of 12-step programs.
9. Focus on Self-Care: Ensure you are looking after your physical health through adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise, as these can significantly impact your mental and emotional well-being.
10. Meditation and Mindfulness: These practices can help you stay grounded and centred, especially when external factors might be challenging.
Remember, recovery is a journey that involves continuous effort and self-awareness. By utilizing these strategies, you can maintain your focus on recovery, even on more challenging days like Blue Monday. Every day is an opportunity to strengthen your commitment to your sobriety and personal growth.
This post is a re-write and re-imagine of a post that first appeared in 2023.