If you joined me on Instagram Live today for my 'Tips for Mitigating Blue Monday and Beyond', then you'll remember me giving going through a list of 8 tips to help reorient your perspective and make you well enough to navigate emotional un-wellness.
First, if you are not familiar with the term 'Blue Monday', let me explain. It is a term used to describe a set of dismal things experienced by many people around a certain time in January.
The term and time of year were coined and calculated by Psychologist, Clifford Arnall. This year ‘Blue Monday’ falls on the 17th of January this year, but typically occurs around the third week of January. At this time, many of us are significantly affected by the following:
- The bleak and dark weather
- Post-Christmas blues
- Financial struggles (it's already been a month since many of us got paid)
- Low motivation
Here are the tips I shared to mitigate some of the above:
1. January is almost over and
Truly! We are over the January hump, and that's a big thing. January is objectively the worst month (no disrespect to those celebrating birthdays– Happy Birthday, love you). The Omicron variant has been blazing through the population, which has made it even worse than it already is. It's dark, it's cold and you have all of 2022 to deal with. So, yes, 14 more days in the month is a giant achievement. We've made it this far.
2. Get yourself a S.A.D. lamp
No, not a lamp that is down in the dumps. I mean a lamp that has a white source of light that can stimulate natural daylight. Those of us who suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder can benefit by keeping these sources of light near, as they help to stimulate a better mood and mental outlook.
3. Try something creative
There's no need to spend money to take a class or invest money in equipment and materials (we're broke!). Turning your sights toward creativity can help stimulate joy and you may discover a new talent in yourself. A creative pursuit can be anything that you do that is considered artful, enjoyable and not something done under duress for others (your boss, partner, child, etc.).
If cooking is not something you do regularly, try making a new dish. If cooking is a regular obligation for your family, try writing, or putting together new combinations of the clothes you already have. Other pursuits could include creative writing, new hairstyles, painting, learning to sew, baking, and more.
Trying something creative is how I discovered I was good at formulating products. It's both a science and an art. We would not have Bourn Beautiful Naturals today if I never tried something new.
4. Take a Walk
This one is very medicine-y because it seems boring and obvious. But some of us overlook the obvious and forget there are old standbys for a reason. Walking gives you a chance to soak up precious vitamin D (get outside because Rickets are on their way back!), you get fresh air, and you get your circulation going. A walk can do wonders for your mood and alert you to new ideas.
5. Get Serious About Sleep
Take your sleep seriously. Running on a regular diet of 4-5 hours of sleep per night will leave you depleted, more irritable and more hungry. Don’t let #grinding allow you to neglect a vital human necessity: sleep. I’m not telling you what I think, I’m telling you what I know. Shout-out to new parents for whom this is a struggle. It gets better…I’ve heard 😅.
I find a sleep mist applied to my pillowcase a night has a good calming effect as I try to drift off. Try to read something of substance (not social media which is too stimulating), or listen to a book, a podcast or a sleep story you’ve heard before. The mind knows what’s coming and is therefore less likely to be in ‘alert’ mode. This helps facilitated relaxation.
6. Focus on one big thing for the day
If you’re like me, making lists of tasks to accomplish and then ticking them off can give you a sense of satisfaction. But it’s easy to get overzealous when creating our lists. Soon, we can find ourselves feeling like we’ve failed because so much of the list has been left unchecked.
Maybe it’s not your lack of motivation, but the fact that you made too long a list! Scale back and focus on accomplishing one big thing each day along with smaller things. If you get 70% of the way there, then give yourself that credit for getting that far. The other 30% can get done after a good night’s sleep.
It may also help to satisfy yourself first before getting to your list of tasks. It’s the opposite of what we’ve been told, but satisfying yourself first can help you to feel less resentful about the dutiful things you must accomplish.
7. Use a meditation app
I love the Calm app, but Headspace is also good. There’s also the Shine app that is more specific to Black and other POC who face specific struggles. Just 5-8 minutes a day of these apps can help you with focused breathing and mental focus. Sometimes I like to listen to The Daily Calm whilst I walk my dogs.
8. Go easy on yourself
To paraphrase Adele—you had good intentions and the highest hopes. But sometimes major economic, political and sociological shifts can impact our lives, causing us to struggle to make changes in order to keep up. Life is hard, don’t make make it unbearable by being your worst enemy.
I hope some of those are helpful. Do let me know if you have others I missed.