“Don’t be sad” is some of the worst advice I’ve ever heard. Most times, it comes from a good place, from someone who cares about you and genuinely wishes you weren’t feeling down, but maybe hasn’t fully thought through how to be helpful. However, sometimes it comes from people who are impatient that you’re not on their level of joy, that your misery is going to bring them down too, and so the quick brush-off is “well just don’t be sad”. It’s like saying “don’t be hungry”. Hate to break it to you, but hunger happens to me without my agreement, and no amount of cajoling will make me not hungry. You know what will make me not hungry? Food. And just like you have to feed your body when it’s hungry, I think you have to feed your soul when it’s sad (is that the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever said? It’s probably up there).
Today is apparently ‘Blue Monday’, the most miserable day of the year. It’s chucking with rain, we’re all broke and ages away from payday, most New Year’s Resolutions have failed and we’re all feeling more than a tad low. So what can we do to beat the blues?
I would like to just point out that anything I say here relates to mild sadness or feeling a bit rubbish. I’m not talking about medical depression, which I am entirely unqualified to talk about but I know definitely cannot be cured by “oh cheer up”. Everyone’s got their own coping mechanisms for their own moods, but if January’s getting you down, here are a few things that usually make me feel better, so maybe they’ll help you too.
- Have a bath. “Ew, no, sitting in your own dirt!” “Ugh, too much effort” “Too girly and pathetic” “But it’ll just get cold”. No. Hush. If you don’t like baths, you’re not doing them properly. Run an almost-too-hot bath, whack in an obscene amount of bubbles and a fun-coloured, glittery, yummy-smelling bath bomb, light some candles, put on some music, take a book (don’t drop it in the water. Lang’s books 0, bathwater 7), furnish yourself with some chocolate and a glass of wine and enjoy your frothy, sparkly tub of joy.
- Revisit a childhood favourite. I can’t actually remember how I discovered this, but did you know that every series of Power Rangers is on Netflix? I loved Power Rangers as a child, and I have to tell you that as a 23-year-old, it is blissfully ridiculous. Good guys always win, bad guys always get their comeuppance or their redemption. There are lots of bad special effects and pyrotechnics and makeup. There’s a plethora of dreadful nineties and early noughties fashion, and you don’t need to pay any attention to the plot. Just let the teenagers in brightly coloured morph suits save the world an implausible number of times in a week and relax. You could equally revisit your favourite childhood book, or film, or video game, whatever. Just go nostalgia-wild.
- Look at photos that make you happy or remind you of times you were happy. I’m putting all of my photos, tickets, show programmes, birthday cards, and you-name-it-I-have-its from Durham into an album, and looking back through all the memories is glorious. There’s a photo of us all building a den on the landing in first year that fills up my heart with happiness.
- Have a disco. Put on your favourite tunes, crank up the volume and dance around without a care in the world. Get others involved if you like, have a blast. Crack out your best (worst) dance moves, dance until you’re breathless, giggling and slightly more cheerful. Sing along. Put on a West End-worthy show in your kitchen. My second-year housemates used to blast either Destiny’s Child or the Wicked soundtrack, depending on the day, and belt out the words and dance around our teeny tiny student kitchen and it was a delight to watch and occasionally participate in.
- Wear what makes you feel good. If you know it’s going to be a bad day, set yourself up to face it with your bravest face on. For me, that means clothes that make me feel sassy and bold lipstick (although I’m on Accutane for my acne at the moment and my lips are so dry that I can’t wear lipstick #firstworldproblems). At work today, all of my colleagues were in predominantly grey, black or navy, and then there was me in bright purple, anti-Blue-Monday trousers.
- Do a workout. If exercise and endorphins is what works for you, do it. Hit the gym, go for one of those hideous ‘run’ things that crazy people claim to enjoy, join a class that sounds like fun. Do a boxing class if you think you need to hit something. Go for a swim and let the water support you. Nothing ever seems as bad when you’re floating.
- Just go to bed. Sleep is a wonderful, wonderful thing. If it’s really one of those days that just keeps kicking you while you’re down, and you come home and you don’t want to talk to anyone, see anyone, do anything, that’s okay. Write off the day and go to bed with a hot water bottle and a hot chocolate. Cry if you need to. Call your mum if you need to. Hide under your duvet and cuddle your soft toy or your pillow and just sleep.
Blue Monday apparently started off as a PR stunt, so it’s all nonsense anyway.
On a completely unrelated note, I went to the History of Magic Exhibition at the British Library this weekend and it was AMAZING. My lil nerd heart could barely cope, it was a combination of Harry Potter and weird spiritual, mythical history, it was a thing of beauty. I don’t have any souvenirs though, because photos were banned and the gift shop was outrageously expensive, but that’s okay. Who needs a £40 jumper with a phoenix on it? (Me. I need it. I almost want to go back and buy the scandalously-priced thing). So thanks to the beautiful curators at the British Library who put it all together.
Until next time, K.