Blue Monday

Today is known as Blue Monday. For many, it can feel like the ‘darkest’, coldest and loneliness day of any year. Little to look forward to and a reluctance to struggle on.

Across social media, initiatives are already under way to try and help people not to feel so low. One example I’m aware of is the #SilverLiningSunday campaign by Berghaus.

But, why do so many of us feel this way and on this same day?

My own opinion is that it partly relates to the Post-Christmas Blues and falling back in to the endless routine of working one’s life away. Getting up, having to be somewhere, coming home in the dark and, repeat for each of the following four days.

While we also know that social media and the internet are ‘tools’ that we can use to connect, communicate and share with others, we can almost equally open ourselves to habits and discoveries that we might react to in a negative or self-depreceating way (I do this a lot).

Being able to ‘get outside’ and spend time outdoors at the weekend is great. In my opinion, it is ESSENTIAL at this time of year. Whether it’s cold and wet, if you’re just going to go for a drive in your car, sit in a park for half an hour… The action of getting up, out and LIVING, even only for a short period of time, is what I believe is most important.

Mondays, whether they’re ‘Blue’ or not, will always follow a Sunday. I detest that Sunday Evening Feeling – I sit here now, writing this, knowing that I’m going to have to go to bed in a few hours, ready to start the five-day routine all over again.

Five days.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

A very long stretch from one Sunday until the next Saturday.

In the late spring, summer and early autumn months, I find it’s easier make a small amount of time in the evenings to climb a hill, head off in to the woods or do a quick loop around the village on foot. These are things that I find beneficial to my survivial. However, we are still facing the extended darkness at this time of year. All of our daylight hours, for most of us, are spent within rooms of air conditioning and central heating. If we can’t comfortably get outside before or after work, how are we going to cope with another week?

Last year, I went to the Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall. One of my only regrets from the long weekend is that I missed a talk by Andrew Simms, an ecologist and author who made his case for working a four-day week. Immediately, you can see the benefits; four days on, three days off. THREE DAYS! Imagine that! You could have a proper rest day and still two more days to enjoy your time as you please. Perhaps it would also create an opportunity for part-time workers to gain extra hours – or have a complete break from their work and studies.

I’m still young enough that I can remember what it was like to be a ‘weekend worker’. You turn up on the Saturday morning, get told what to do throughout the day but are constantly lacking in full understanding of the operation because you’ve been elsewhere the previous five days. When I switched from that job to working full-time, I found myself feeling more involved, connected to what was going on generally and able to do my job far more efficiently. Weekend Workers aren’t always worthy of the criticism they can receive.

There is no such thing as a ‘work-life’ balance right now, because the scales are unequally tipped in favour of one side.

A ratio of 4:3 would allow for a stronger balance.

Another issue I encounter is the stress of driving. When I say driving, I mean having to contend with congested roads. This is partly due to a lack of foresight on the authorities’ part but also, I believe, because most of us are trying to be somewhere at the very same time. And then, at the end of the day, we’re bottlenecking our way out of city centres, one beside the other.

Here in the UK, an average working day (apparently) means starting at 9:00 and finishing at 17:00. In the mornings, this can lead to complelte chaos, with most kids needing to be in school for a time between 8:30 and 8:45.

Nearly ten-years ago, someone told me that they do things different in Germany, as one example. Basically, companies will stagger its working hours from one to the next. So, not everyone is working ‘9 to 5’… Some may work from 8:00 to 16:00; others from 10:00 to 18:00 and so on. I strongly, strongly believe that this is an option we should be considering. If not for our wellbeing generally, it may help us to cope better with a road infrastructure that was designed for a foregone generation.

As a society, I beleive that a slowly increasing number of us are becoming more aware of our own wellbeing, mental health and the everyday challenges we face. But, the world generally? I fear that change may be long overdue.

These are just my thoughts. I’m not much of a self-help guide but, if I could offer one piece of advice, I would ask you to stop blaming others – whether it’s people, circumstances or whatever – for how you feel.

Next time you feel angry, upset or whatever negative emotion if may be; NOTICE it. Try to accept it is how you are right now. Blaming other people is futile, in my opinion. It won’t change the way you feel. If you feel something, YOU feel something because you’re human. Nobody has ‘made’ you feel that way. Nobody can ‘make’ you feel any differently. How you react is entirely that.

Ten-years ago, even before ‘Blue Monday 2008’, I made the decision to leave my job because of how I was feeling (in truth, I secretly planned the departure months in advance). I wasn’t happy there and I’ve been unhappy in other jobs since. I have thoughts about leaving my current job. What I’m saying is, I can go from one job to the next and still feel these things because they’re a part of ME. My thoughts, my feelings, my desires.

I’m actually incredibly sensitive to the whole “it makes me feel” idea. Whether it’s good bad, I have to bite my lip each time I hear or read someone say that. Equally, I’m terrible at explaining this… It was explained to me once, I rejected it at first but, after three years, it began to make a lot of sense. I found it enlightening, even, to know and begin to accept that everything I experience in this life is a result of myself. I do not believe it is healthy in even the slightest way, the assign that responsibility of emotion to any external source. Be responsible for whatever’s going on with you.

You’re entirely welcome to disagree with me, as many people do. These are my rambling words. I’m a writer, not an authority. I’m imperfect. I write posts without drafting or reading back through my work.

My job doesn’t “make me feel bad”… I despise having to be somewhere at a set time each day; spending every winter daylight hour indoors; ultimately working on something that I am not passionate about but, equally, lacking the belief, desire and direction to do something different. Also living with the fear of having to pay rent, bills and scrape away a living each month.

Anyway, I’ve written a lot. I don’t often write in this style on this blog but, if you have read this far, I do appreciate it! I think you’ve earned a sit-down and a cup of tea!

If you’re feeling low on this Monday 15th, I’d ask you to try and be kind to yourself.

Thanks for reading.

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