It is once again Blue Monday: the so-called most depressing day of the year. With these tips from depression experts you can start January 18 2021 on a positive note. As well as every other day..
“When I walk out of a bad-news conversation with a patient crying uncontrollably, I know I’ve reached my limit”, says former transfer nurse Brigitte Cobben (61). What starts as occasionally feeling depressed for Brigitte, ends in a severe depression with suicidal thoughts. U-center psychologist Ecem Kök (28): Everyone has the blues from time to time: what is important is what you do about it.
What is Blue Monday?
In 2005 British psychologist Cliff Arnal comes up with a formula to calculate the most depressing day off the year. The penultimate Monday in January turns out to be the day when most people feel sad, dejected, or melancholy. This would be due to failed New Year's resolutions, vacations that seem far away, a lack of daylight and because Monday is the first day of the work week. The formula has received a lot of criticism in scientific circles, but still pops up every year.
It's a slippery slope
Ignoring the signs. Trying to please everyone. A hidden trauma. Ignoring physical complaints.. Brigitte has no idea that she is crawling into the den of a severe depression via blue Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Sha takes beta blockers for her heart rhythm disorder. This way she can still keep up with everything. Until she no longer feels rested after a vacation, increasingly forgets important files at work and get blackouts behind her computer. She solves it by working overtime, having her own office, working part-time and finally switching to a different job. “All quick fixes,” she realises afterwards.
“Let's be honest: we humans always want and expect something,” says Ecem. “While luck is more in the opposite. At U-center we work with the traffic light-method to become aware of these and other feelings. And also of the complaints associated with this and what you can do about it. Do you feel green? That means good. Orange is in the middle and red is bad. The latter color is also a part of daily life, but don't get stuck in it. Wallow in your misery for fifteen minutes and then take action.”
According to Ecem, what can you do to get into a positive mindset?
- Relax: call a friend, take a bath, or go for a walk.
- List your positive qualities: who are you and what can you offer? Then write down what you give to others. From a listening ear to a good joke and your knowledge. You are worth more than you think.
- Consider what you don’t need to change. For example, do you live in a nice house? Or do you have close friends? For example, make a gratitude diary.
- After a nice meeting, think: what was my part in this?
- Do something nice for someone else.
Look at the whole picture
Brigitte ends up sick at home and continues to spiral downward psychologically. Speaking to a psychologist for an hour a week does not help her, which is the case for many other people with multiple psychological problems. Finally desperate, she applies to U-center after a year and a half. There she receives intensive treatment twice for seven weeks: first on location, then remotely. Ecem explains: “In our clinic we help clients from a holistic vision: your body, mind and contacts are interrelated. That is why we do not only treat through conversations, but also, for example, with somatic movement (body conscious movement), drama therapy and physiotherapy. And of course, just as important: we do this in beautiful surroundings. ”
Feel and relax
Fortunately, Brigitte gets her mood and her traffic light under control. Which lessons does she still apply to color her days green?
- I take breaks regularly: sitting down with a cup of tea, watch the birds, enjoy the seasons…
- I make ceramic bowls, in which I can express my creativity.
- I meditate and practice yoga.
- I wonder if I really “have" to be something. And is it my decision or someone else’s? I no longer postpone a decision.
- I am more aware of the side effects of my medications.
"Intense and something for people who are motivated", is how Brigitte summarizes her admission. "My protective layer crumbled, it felt so vulnerable." But above all she is proud and grateful: "Thanks to U-center I have my life back."