“Blue Mondays” are common – overcoming the inertia caused by a great weekend and with a sigh, realising that there is plenty to do awaiting you at the office, perhaps not all of these things pleasant activities. But what happens when “blue Mondays” turn into blue other days of the week and pulling the duvet over the head, when the alarm cheerily announces opportunity for a new day, becomes common practise; when you really don’t want to get up and face the day? These could be early signs of depression or where a lack of a sense of purpose and fulfilment is leaving you feeling helpless and without hope. In my travels, I have met hundreds of people that exhibit these symptoms – people who, if they sought the necessary guidance, could probably live much more fulfilled and happy lives.
One of the most humiliating, yet defining, moments of my life occurred after a family breakfast one Saturday morning – my children, then in their early twenties, sat me down and asked in a serious tone: “Dad, what are you going to do to relax?” I was puzzled and a little embarrassed and asked them to clarify their question. They replied: “All we see in you is stress, tenseness, irritability, hard work, grumpiness and frustration – what are you going to do to relax?” They then continued to list many options: “What about gliding, surfing, snake-handling, fishing, model-car racing, archery and many more?” The list was endless, partly absurd, but I got the point. They were recognising burn-out symptoms in me and in their caring way, were attempting to give me options to alleviate some of the perceived stress.
Besides the possible necessity of medical attention to address this condition, I have found that the following steps are particularly helpful to regain direction and a sense of well-being:
- Deal with any toxic issues in your past – failures, disappointments and the painful hurts of the past leave their mark on people, often negatively affecting behaviour in the present. If necessary, seek professional help to sort out issues that weigh you down, as these issues hinder your progress.
- Avoid people who habitually put you down – such people can severely harm our self-images. This destructive influence holds us back. We may have to physically and emotionally remove ourselves from their influence and surround ourselves with positive friends who care.
- Choose a mentor for yourself – some of the significant growth curves in my life have taken place when I have submitted to the guidance of a mentor and placed myself in a position of accountability to him/her. Mentors are not emotionally involved in your situation and can thus look at the issues of your life from an objective stand-point.
- Set goals for yourself or with a partner for your lives together – avoid just processing daily routines and the treadmill syndrome, but rather plan ambitious, but realistic, targets that you want to achieve in all areas of your lives. Having something to aim at always stimulates energy.
- Organise your lives around your priorities – don’t get caught up with the mundane. Learn to say “no” appropriately and focus on your priorities.
- Set time to evaluate progress – look back and see how far you have come. Check that you are still on track and re-align if necessary. Make sure that you are focused on the things that generate impact for you. Where your focus lies, that’s where your energy will go.
- Reward yourself when you reach significant milestones – book into the day spa, go for a candle-light dinner with your partner or treat yourself to a weekend away when you achieve something of significance.
So, are you feeling blue? Dealing with depression, anxiety and stress needs decisive action before a state of wellness is achieved. This may involve professional assistance, but certainly also involves a rethink and evaluation of your emotional state, dealing with issues that hinder your progress and having a plan for future achievement. You need not stay “blue” if you are feeling blue – take steps to bring about change for yourself.