No one has time for Blue Monday
January 18, 2021
No one has time for Blue Monday. We don’t even know what day it is anymore.
Several years ago I wrote a blog debunking the myth of Blue Monday, but this year I could not help but think about how little importance specific days have become in the wake of COVID-19. COVID birthdays and other special events have all taken on new (or less) meaning because they can’t be celebrated in the same way. I recently wrote a celebratory note to a friend who had achieved an important milestone, realizing “wish we could celebrate in person” could not be made more palatable by suggesting that we will somehow do it in the future. There is only so much you can put off before there is a sense of not wanting to bother. There are some pretty cute memes out there these days about this sense of loss about the awareness of time, but as I got to thinking about it a bit more, it occurred to me that this is exactly what is chipping away at so much of our mental health.
When we think about raising children, running organizations and taking care of ourselves, the things we turn to right away involve structure, routine and goal setting – all things that require a schedule and usually a calendar. So, what does it mean for our mental health when every day seems the same and hope for change is still a long way off on the horizon?
I recently wrote a blog post about waiting, but what are we waiting for if there seems to be no end in sight? If we are honest with ourselves, we have to acknowledge that there is indeed an end coming eventually; however, I think it’s fair to say we are just too fatigued to get excited about it. This feeling may also be related to the fact that things seem to be getting worse, long before they begin to get better. I suppose it’s harder to see sun rising in the east – shining light on a new day of hope and opportunity – if you’re still stuck climbing the west side of the mountain face. But we have to keep climbing. So, how can we get through the rest of these endless days?
Tips for remembering what day it is during a pandemic:
- Put a calendar on the wall and mark off each day with a sharpie (yes, paper calendars still exist). Might I suggest one that features local nature? I just put one up from Lake Louise – so the mountain face metaphor continues to be useful in our household.
- Do you have kids at home? You should consider making advent calendars for EVERY month. Country Living provides some great ideas to make the next month more interesting to get through – or at least each day.
- Can’t go to a restaurant? Create weekly specials in your own kitchen – it can solve the age-old problem of meal planning, while also helping everyone remember what day it is! Meatless Mondays has been a thing in my family for years. Get the whole family involved in coming up with fun weeknight traditions. Taco Tuesdays, anyone?
- Create a similar calendar for chores in the house – and if you had one before, maybe it’s time to change up the days (well, except for garbage day – that’s not exactly something you can change).
- Make a coffee date, play date or whatever you need to happen at least once a week with a friend – it will give you both something to look forward to and break up the monotony of weeks that almost always look the same. Meet for a socially distanced walk somewhere different each week instead of staring at each other on Zoom (if you are completely screened out).
- Set boundaries for your day. I’m as guilty of this as anyone now that we are working from home, but my workdays never seem to end. And this is especially so for anyone with children at home during the day – trying to do it all can push the work day into longer and longer hours. Set an alarm when you are working on a project. Take breaks and breathe or go for a walk. Set rules for email. There are lots of tips out there, but sometimes just accepting that you can’t do it all (and this too shall pass someday) is the best approach. Here’s a poignant example of this.
- Create little things to look forward to. Don’t binge watch that Netflix show – instead, stop after one episode and save the next for another day so that the series itself can become part of a countdown. I know someone who has posted the dialogue from the film Groundhog Day every day since the first day of lockdown. I look forward to it every day.
We’ve often been told not to sweat the small stuff, but in a world where all we are left with seems like the small stuff, hold onto it and make it into something bigger and more meaningful. Whatever you do to try to make your days seem more real and the weeks more manageable, you are, perhaps, realizing that the little things are becoming the big things – for example, we can now start getting excited about a future where walking around without a mask on, getting a haircut on a whim and hugging your mom no longer requires a second thought. In times like these, Blue Monday has never been less relevant, so take that sharpie out and cross this day off the calendar.
Tomorrow is already on its way.