Blue Monday is a name given to the day in January (typically the third Monday of the month) reported to be the most depressing day of the year for those in the Northern Hemisphere.
So, according to my calculations, today promises to be the most depressing day of the year for most of the people reading this post — yay for us — not really. 🙁
You know, the Church foresaw Blue Monday way before Wikipedia made it a thing — it’s called Ordinary Time — and coming off of the highs of the Christmas Season can be hard for all of us.
The parties are over, family has returned to their homes, people are receiving their credit card bills from December (talk about depressing), and the days are short and cold — it’s really the perfect storm.
So, call it Blue Monday or the Winter Blues — whatever you want to call it, many of us are probably feeling a little more down after all the beauty and excitement of the Christmas Season.
So in honor of Blue Monday, I like to offer a few few thoughts on ways to put Blue Monday and the Winter Blues back into the “We Got This” box — Let’s do this, people! 🙂
Take Care of Yourself
It is amazing how different my mindset can be after exercising or getting a good night’s sleep. And I realize that moms with young kids don’t necessarily have a lot of control over our lives, but we need to try our best and then let God take care of the rest.
Try to live a balanced life, knowing that God’s grace kicks in if we’re doing our part. Try to eat healthy, sleep, pray, exercise, and find moments of leisure. It’s all about balance. Don’t think you can eat twinkies, drink Diet Coke and bing watch shows late into the night for long before you’re going to be an absolute mess.
Go To Confession
I know that this might not be the first thing that you think about for curing the winter blues, but confession is a great start to making sure we’re in a good place spiritually. Sin can compound sadness and depression, so if you tend towards being a bit melancholic, take advantage of going to confession often. Confession always offers healing for the soul — but it might just heal your sadness as well. It doesn’t hurt to try, right?
I feel like this goes without saying, but if you are seriously struggling with depression, you should seek professional help. Maybe start here. Confession and therapy can work together beautifully when you can find a Christian therapist who respects the spiritual and the psychological issues that are at work in a person’s life.
Find Ways to Make Your Environment More Cheerful.
A few days before Christmas, I wrote about the Nordic tradition of hygge — so maybe it’s time to get hygge with it? I know it sounds funny, but lighting candles and spending time with the people you love is a really effective way to combat the winter blues.
Environment is important, people, so try to bring a little cheer into your environment — it’s simple, but it can make a big difference.
Change Your Attitude Towards the Weather.
A few years ago, I just got sick of hiding away for months on end — just waiting for the sunshine and warm weather to return. And, one day, when talking to a very eccentric man in church, my attitude changed a bit.
So there I was talking to this guy and I found myself complaining to him about the weather. He said something simple, but profound. He said, “I have learned to accept the weather, whatever it is, and see it as God’s will for me.”
It was one of those moments that felt a bit like a rebuke, but in a good way. He touched on something that I was struggling with: I was basing my happiness on the weather. If it was sunny, I was happy — and if it was rainy and dreary, I was kind of down.
It was one of those “duh” moments — Of course I shouldn’t base my happiness on something as unpredictable and changeable as the weather — but it took a short chat in church to drive that message home for me.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
I like to think of myself as an island — a little, introverted island of a person who doesn’t need anybody else. But I’m kidding myself if I think I can live happily without other people. God made us to live in communion with others — and He knew that loving others and receiving love is our greatest chance at true happiness in this lifetime.
When you are feeling down, your first inclination might be to isolate yourself from others, but that’s a temptation that you need to fight against. Honestly, just spending time with other people can be all we need to find ourselves on the other side of our sadness.
And you know what, you are not alone. Everybody feels sad on occasion and it’s nice to know that you aren’t the only person who feels that way. It’s part of the human condition, so might as well be honest with ourselves and others.
Sometimes You Just Need to Have Fun
St. Teresa of Avila was known to have said, “From sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us.” We are Catholic. We aren’t Puritans — no offense Puritans 🙁 — we like wine and food and dancing and good old-fashioned fun. Catholics are fun, and if you’ve developed some warped sense that we’re supposed to be serious and gloomy all the time — think again! Life of abundance — people — that’s what God came to bring us.
We all need moments to laugh and have fun with other people. Don’t make it too complicated — you might be surprised at how joy-filled simple gatherings can be. Cocoa (or something stronger for adults) and board games is all you need. Or maybe wine and hors d’oeuvres and a few friends. Whatever it is, just do it. Having fun with family and friends provides lots of moments for good old-fashioned belly laughs and we need those moments!
And these moments don’t have to cost a penny — and you don’t even need to leave your own home. So no excuses 🙂
Just Get Outside
You know what else is really effective in chasing the winter blues away? Just getting outside and facing the winter head on. I know it sounds funny, but getting outside in the cold actually makes it a lot less depressing.
Go for a walk with your kids, build a snowman, whatever else can lure you outdoors. Maybe even find a few cute winter items that make you feel put together — you will definitely be more likely to put them on and enjoy those frigid temps if you have the gear to make it a pleasant experience.
Some of life’s most beautiful moments happen by getting outside and just taking it all in — because life must be lived, not just observed.
If All Else Fails, Don’t Waste Your Sadness!
There was a point in my life when the weather had me down –and I had a bunch of “littles” and no “bigs” surrounding me all day long — and I was exhausted — and my prayer life was really dry and desolate. I felt far away from God and that “distance” increased my sadness.
A priest recommended I try everything in my power to keep my melancholy at bay (basically already mentioned #1-7) and if I still felt sad then I should simply offer it to God.
That advice slowly developed into a simple meditation that helped me — so I’m going to share it with you.
Whenever I find myself feeling sad, I try to imagine Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. And I take all of my sadness and dryness and exhaustion, and offer it to Him — not asking Him to take it away — but offering to carry mine alongside of His, as long as He asks it of me. And I always try to end this prayer with words of encouragement for Jesus –words I would say if I was right beside Him in Gethsemane.
Hey — God’s outside of time — so who is to say that my words of encouragement couldn’t have reached his ears when he was suffering in that garden 2,000 years ago? But even if He couldn’t hear it back then, don’t you think that His heart needs consolation right now?
Think about all the sadness and evil that He has to see — the wars, the hatred, the abuse, the murder — and maybe your simple offering and words of encouragement will touch His Sacred Heart in ways that you’ll only know in heaven.
Saint Faustina spoke often about consoling the heart of Jesus — and she encouraged others to do the same — so it is possible to console the heart of Jesus. So this simple prayer might actually be a part of that. That is kind of mind-blowing when you think about it.
Uniting our sadness with His can transform our sadness into something truly beautiful, so let’s not waste one ounce of it!
Okay, that’s all I got. Hope it helps!