A colleague alerted me to the dispiriting fact that yesterday was Blue Monday – apparently the most depressing day of the year, as coined by a life coach and psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall by computing the combined effect of multiple downer factors including bad weather, dark nights, post-Christmas debt and failed New Year’s resolutions. The idea, you should know, was basically a marketing gimmick designed to prompt you to book a holiday. Go somewhere sunny! The debts will still be there when you get back. But at least you can ignore them for 2 weeks while drinking and eating all you can on a beach somewhere.
After she shared that with me, I took a little temperature check… What am I feeling right now? And what was I feeling before she told me it was Blue Monday? I wasn’t feeling blue, until it seemed booked in the calendar and inevitable. And then, sure, if I look around for reasons to feel blue, there are plenty of them.
And then I started to play with this idea, as if it were a piece of play dough and I had some agency over the shape it took.
What do you do with “blue?”
- You pull out your Tolerance for Uncertainty workbook, naturally… and re-read this sentence: “The current pandemic is an opportunity to learn new skills to accept your feelings, tolerate distress and move forward with grace despite not knowing what lies ahead.”
2. You look at the feelings wheel and see if you can name a more specific feeling than “blue”… pin it down, so it isn’t an overwhelming atmosphere, but is just a little cloud, taking the shape of a whale, moving across the sky, and soon to dissipate… and with a more specific word, you can take an action to help respond and tend to that feeling.
3. You can do one small thing. Like, maybe go and write a word that makes you happy with a stick in the mud or the snow. Or with your own finger on your heart. Or on your child’s back.
4. You can ask what happens when you add to blue: add yellow, and you get green. Add red, and you get purple. Yeah, blue isn’t fixed. It only needs a drop or two of something else to be completely transformed. (I added a dance party to Nathaniel Rateliff and turned it into silver disco ball sparkles.)
5. You can celebrate that today is Tuesday, the day after Blue Monday, the apparently shittiest day of the entire year, and here you are, here we are, holding on, hanging in, and now that blue no longer has its monopoly, we can remember we have an entire rainbow at our disposal, so what colour will you call your day?