Finding Joy on The Gloomiest Day of The Year

This is a decorative imageWritten by: Shaowda Salehin, 4th Year English + Biology 

Photo from Adobe Stock 

There is a day dedicated to being the saddest day of the year - the third Monday of January, January 17th. The day was established by Dr. Cliff Arnall, a prominent psychologist who calculated this day to be the worst of weather, the highest debt, and the lowest motivation. Seasonal Affective Disorder is also a challenging condition for people to endure during the winter months. 

Sky Travel, a British air company decided to promote the day as part of their campaign for traveling after the holiday season. Although the day is meant for you to acknowledge your melancholy, it is also a day for you to understand your own grief. This is an opportunity to navigate through your emotions and a step to learning from your sadness. 

I have researched some of the ways sadness can provide a learning experience and how we can cope better with our emotional health. There are a few ways that I have set out to acknowledge the day - join me on the gloomiest day of the year, even sadness has meaning. 

My Five Ways of Staying Well on Blue Monday: 

#1. Recognizing Sadness

Recognizing and acknowledging your feelings can help to better understand certain emotions. Rather than discouraging myself from being sad, I attempt to investigate to find the root cause of it. Sadness is the mind’s way of communicating that something may not be right and that something needs to change. Making certain changes may seem like an overwhelming, nearly impossible task. Time will continue to pass whether you decide to make changes or not. Sometimes it feels like every moment until you reach your goal is a moment that is not worth smiling or enjoying. Instead, I choose to combat these moments by directly addressing how I am feeling. This allows me to find hope in painful moments by asserting to myself, "these are the changes I am making to feel better."

#2. Connecting with Your Body

It can be very challenging to love your body, especially with social stigmas that can make us feel more like props and personas. It is never too late to start loving your body by catering to its needs and helping it to be successful in providing for you. In moments of sadness, when all I feel like doing is laying down - I schedule myself to walk. I hold my breath for some moments, continue to walk, and provide my body with the exercise that it needs. I don’t want to take out my anger and hurt on the one thing working so hard to keep me alive, and I have the responsibility of taking care of it. 

#3. Get Rest

As a university student, it can feel very overwhelming to take a rest because there are so many things that you have to be on top of at all times. Nonetheless, rest is extremely important - physical and emotional. Even sadness has an end, but it can only end by living through it. It can take a very long time to heal, but the process of healing shapes us and teaches us to live better lives. Scheduling rest time prevents the constant tiredness and defeatedness one experiences when going through the blues. 

#4. Regularized Sleeping Schedule 

When I am undergoing a depressive episode, all I want to do is sleep. I wake up in the morning looking forward to sleeping and I sleep for long hours of the day. There is no one else to blame other than me, which makes me wonder what I should do for the rest of my life. I am going to be twenty-two in a few months and the birthday seems daunting - I used to look forward to birthdays. Thus, I try to give myself a few things to do before I sleep and always sleep at a regular time. I try to be in bed by 12am and wake up at 8am. Every day, going to sleep still serves as a moment to look forward to. It takes a lot of willpower, but once I started addressing my emotions and keeping records of my days, it has helped me to at least try. 

#5. Keep a Gratitude Journal 

Living with depression can be lonely and harrowing - and it is vital that we remember all the things that help us live in comfort outside of our minds. When my mind has turned against me and I no longer feel like my body is a safe place for my heart and soul, I seek refuge in things outside of myself. I am thankful for my warm and fuzzy reading socks that keep me warm. I am thankful for my job here at Western, which helps me fund my education. I am thankful for my wonderful parents, making delicious meals for me when I don’t have the interest to do it myself. All these amazing things that make me happy are things I am grateful for, for they are the things that will help me come out on the other side. As I am trudging through the trenches of my own mind, I look up to remember that there is still sunlight in my life and I will be able to feel it fully again when my mind has healed. I have been writing it down and journaling, so that my gratitude is concretized - every day, I am one day closer to recovery. 

Blue Monday can be a day for us to acknowledge our trauma, hurt, pain, stress, and most importantly it is a reminder to not let it consume us. I have been living with diagnosed clinical depression for two years now. I learn something about myself every day, and I have compassion and love for everyone in ways that I did not have before. I forgave everyone who has hurt me, acknowledging that maybe they were hurting too. I am in the process of forgiving myself for all the things that I blame myself for - not studying hard enough to get into Medical school, not keeping my body healthy by picking up a sport, not eating appropriately, and nourishing my body. But I want to do better for myself, and, I just want to remind myself to keep trying. Keep going. Everyone’s walk of life is different, and it is important to keep trying to be healthy and happy. Be healthy and happy for myself, my family, and my friends - I will keep going. Knowledge is power, and knowing my emotions and even befriending my depression has helped me curate a life that I want for myself.

Check out more blogs:

What is Blue Monday?

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