A last minute call from a producer at Good Morning Scotland yesterday led to a hurried bit of Blue Monday thinking on how to deal with the dissatisfaction of January. Always happy to think for the nation, the Creative Fool hotfooted it across to Pacific Quay to do a Thought for the Day at 7.20am on BBC Radio Scotland. The text of what I said is printed below, and you can listen again by following the link and scrolling to 01:22:04.
Congratulations on surviving another Blue Monday. According to research carried out by a travel company, yesterday was apparently the most depressing day of the year. The perfect storm of cold weather, distance from payday and post-Christmas blues allegedly hits us on the third Monday of January. So, I hope you’re feeling perky and optimistic this morning, because there’s no label for today.
Like many of us, I don’t like being told how to feel or what to do by a marketing department somewhere. Of course external factors like the weather or financial worries have an impact on my wellbeing, but it annoys me when they’re used to force me to book a holiday, or to persuade me that purchasing things will make me feel better.
Popular advice on how to beat the January blues include giving yourself new goals or cutting negative people out of your life. The problem with that is that working harder doesn’t always bring success, and it’s not that easy to get rid of negative people. And it’s quite nasty!
Eating properly, drinking sensibly and getting exercise will all help us keep a positive mental attitude through the dark winter days. Letting go of past hurt, saying sorry when we get it wrong and learning to forgive can restore relationships. But it’s hard to admit this to ourselves, and even harder to act upon.
Thinking about this I’ve been struck by some words of Jesus that express how I feel when I try harder without seeing success:
‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’
The yoke he is talking about is the wooden beam put on the shoulders of a pair of oxen. The picture is of having someone who will share the weight that we carry, of someone who will walk with us through the hard times and relieve the pressure of battling on alone. It’s a picture of grace – love for others whether or not they’ve done anything to deserve it. Maybe the answer to Blue Monday, or a grey Tuesday, is not cutting negative people out of our lives but finding rest for our souls by offering glimpses of grace to people around us.